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Recent advances in the science of DNA mapping make it possible to identify the specific characteristics of a cancer tumor through a simple blood or urine test. These “liquid biopsies” are being heralded as a game-changer in cancer management and cancer detection by tracking DNA fragments of tumors as they circulate through the blood.

Early cancer detection: Liquid biopsy

Liquid biopsy is a procedure used to detect cancer in a patient at an early stage. It involves the sampling of liquid biological tissue, usually a blood sample, to detect cancerous cells from a tumor circulating in blood or pieces of tumor DNA in the blood.

Liquid biopsy to monitor cancer treatment

Liquid biopsy can ascertain the effectiveness of cancer treatment and help determine the best route to move forward in cancer treatments. Liquid biopsy is an effective tool for understanding and tracking the body’s response to ongoing treatment.

How does liquid biopsy work?

During liquid biopsy, the two components targeted are circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and intact circulating tumor cells (CTCs). Circulating tumor DNA tests allow our diagnosticians to analyze DNA from a tumor found in the bloodstream, whereas circulating tumor cells tests look for whole tumor cells found in the blood.

Liquid biopsy vs. tissue biopsy

Unlike tissue biopsy, obtaining cellular samples through a simple blood test is fast, painless, and can be repeated multiple times during treatment. This allows our cancer doctors to regularly monitor the effectiveness of a particular drug or therapy, adjusting the medication or the dose as indicated. Liquid biopsy is particularly useful in cases where the tumor is unreachable or when the patient cannot withstand the physical stress of a surgical biopsy.

Patients now have options that would not have been available if progress in treatment was monitored strictly with tissue biopsies. The ability to draw blood frequently and to use tumor markers to gauge whether a treatment is working is invaluable in making treatment decisions.

Beverly Hills Cancer Center: A personalized approach to cancer diagnosis and treatment

At our Los Angeles facility, our oncologists utilize this cutting-edge technology as part of our personalized approach to cancer planning and treatment, using the science of DNA. With your unique genetic blueprint, we are more able to target cancer cells with laser precision.

While this science is in the early development phase, liquid biopsies can be implemented to screen high-risk patients for gene mutations that could indicate cancer. These patients can be closely monitored regularly at our Beverly Hills cancer clinic.

Beverly Hills Cancer Center

Monitoring cancer remission

Patients being monitored while in remission can have a regularly scheduled blood test to screen for any increase in tumor DNA. Should cancer reappear, a liquid biopsy can provide information on changes in the tumor since the initial treatment concluded, allowing our doctors to select a drug based on how the cancer has changed.

Are tissue biopsies obsolete?

Tissue biopsies and liquid biopsies are complementary as both types of biopsy reveal factors that assist diagnosis and treatment decisions. Liquid biopsies can be performed very frequently throughout treatment to monitor changes to tumors while undergoing treatment. Tissue biopsies provide historical pathology of tumors that give our doctors comprehensive data that is unique to the individual.

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A cutting-edge cancer center in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills Cancer Center strives to stay abreast of the latest advances in the detection, treatment, and monitoring of cancer patients. Liquid biopsies have provided our doctors with a powerful tool which, in combination with personalized medicine techniques, can significantly increase positive outcomes in cancer treatment.

Am I a candidate for a liquid biopsy?

Because it is a relatively new procedure, liquid biopsy is limited to diagnosing breast, prostate, non-small cell lung cancer, and colon cancer and their treatments. Liquid biopsy can also be used for patients unable to undergo an invasive tumor biopsy, thus allowing for screening, disease prognosis, drug response, and resistance testing.

Doctor studying a liquid biopsy through microscope

Benefits of liquid biopsy

  • Liquid biopsy is less invasive than tissue biopsy
  • It helps detect cancer at its early stages so treatment and management can be initiated earlier
  • With this diagnostic tool, we can evaluate the efficacy of ongoing cancer treatment, allowing us to change to a more effective treatment more rapidly.
  • Liquid biopsy is less costly than a tissue biopsy
  • It can estimate the risk of a relapse
  • Liquid biopsy is easy to do so the tests can be repeated frequently, without the incisions and planning required for a tissue biopsy
  • Test results for liquid biopsy are available earlier than tissue biopsy tests for a more rapid diagnosis
  • Liquid biopsies have the potential to detect cancer recurrence before cancer becomes visible or the patient exhibits clinical symptoms
  • Cancer cells detected in liquid biopsies don’t just originate from a singular tumor site as with tissue biopsies but from throughout the body
  • In cases where tissue biopsy isn’t available, liquid biopsy can be used for molecular profiling of tumors
  • A liquid biopsy test is more rapid compared to a tissue biopsy

Disadvantages of liquid biopsy

  • The low variant frequency within peripheral blood may lead to a higher false-negative rate
  • Though there is an increase in the use of the liquid biopsy, it isn’t yet considered a standard testing procedure. It is not used as a replacement for tissue biopsy, but only as a complementary test
  • Further studies are needed to assess the accuracy of the test for detecting various tumor types
  • Due to a lack of standardization around procedures and difficulty in comparing different technological platforms, liquid biopsy testing has a higher degree of lab-to-lab variability
  • In some cases, the source of the tumor is not clear in liquid biopsy

Why Choose The Beverly Hills Cancer Center?

Our center offers a full array of facilities, services, and doctors normally found in a large hospital, but in a private and comfortable setting entirely focused on cancer patient treatment and care. The Beverly Hills Cancer Center is the only private comprehensive cancer treatment facility in Southern California. You will be under the care of a team of internationally recognized cancer doctors, in a private, comfortable clinic where we recognize that treatment and recovery can be enhanced in an environment of support and healing.

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Your health is important, and we welcome the opportunity to help you heal.

To schedule an appointment, please call Beverly Hills Cancer Center in Beverly Hills, California at (877) 320-5131 or Click the link below to access our Online Appointment Request

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