Cancer diagnosis: blood tests more efficient than standard biopsy

Researchers analyzed samples from more than 15,000 patients to determine that a tissue biopsy is often useless to detect tumors!

Starting from September 2016, Incorpore medical center will offer these blood analysis to its patients.

A blood test would be as or more effective, than a tissue biopsy to detect a cancerous tumor and better to target the best treatment to fight it, concludes one of the largest genomics study ever conducted. The results, presented Saturday at the conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s largest conference on cancer, show that the genetic alterations detected in the blood are very similar to those identified by biopsy of tumor tissue.

Besides the fact that a “liquid” biopsy seems to be a very credible alternative to more invasive conventional biopsies, it could also change the treatment of cancers, according to researchers.

“These results suggest that a DNA analysis of the tumor in the blood of the patient may reveal a lot of information and is therefore a minimally invasive alternative to biopsy tissue which in some cases can not be made because they are too risky, “says Dr. Philip Mack, professor and chair of molecular pharmacology at the University of California at Davis who led the research.

“Moreover, this genetic test offers an unprecedented opportunity to monitor changes of the tumor, which can be critical in deciding the different options of treatment to continue to control the cancer” he says.

Cancer cells lose small DNA fragments circulating in the blood that can be collected and analyzed in the laboratory to decide what therapy to follow, as it is done for tissue biopsy.

Most genetic alterations were detected at very low levels, half of them below 0.4% of the total cancer DNA circulating in the blood, very low levels that have not so far affected the performance the test.

Also, since the genetic changes occur in the DNA of cancer cells before they occur in the tumor and are detectable on CT, liquid biopsy from the blood helps doctors to adjust a treatment earlier or might even may detect the disease before it manifests.

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