The development of non-invasive methods to detect and monitor tumours continues to be a major challenge in oncology.
For most tumours, a tissue biopsy is quite challenging because it is costly, painful, or potentially risky for the patient.
These are good reasons to learn about cancer through blood carrying out liquid biopsies. Tumour-related circulating-free DNA, RNA or proteins are released by tumour cells and circulate in the blood of cancer patients - assays using these molecules can be used for early tumour detection, monitoring or detection of resistance mutations.
Liquid biopsies can provide a non-invasive, ongoing picture of a patient’s cancer, offering valuable insight into how best to fight it.
They offer clues about stage and spread, and can be used to monitor the effects of cancer treatment, give an early warning about possible recurrence and offer clues to the reasons for treatment resistance.
Adapted from Karachaliou N, Mayo-de-las-Casas V, Molina-Vila MA and Rosell. Real-time liquid biopsies become a reality in cancer treatment. Ann Transl Med. 2015 Mar; 3(3): 36. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2305-5839.2015.01.16. Internet. Accessed on August 5, 2016. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4356857/