With new scientific and medical advancements coming up everyday, and newer, non-invasive diagnostic techniques being introduced, there is a lot of hope, particularly for cancer patients.
A team of researchers have now develop what they call liquid biopsy, which is basically a blood test that promises to diagnose cancer. This blood test apparently works by detecting tiny snippets of cancer DNA in the patient’s blood.
This simple blood draw technique, which is definitely less dangerous than a traditional biopsy or a CT scan, could help oncologists quickly get estimates if a treatment is working, and could be a simple way to continue monitoring the cancer treatment and see if the cancer cells have developed resistance etc.
“This could change forever the way we follow up not only response to treatments but also the emergence of resistance,” the researchers explain.
While extensive evaluations are needed to confirm the efficacy of this blood test, the researchers have already conducted small studies considering colon, blood and lung cancer, and the early results seem to be quite encouraging.
The researchers took in 126 patients suffering from lymphoma, and were able to predict recurrence even faster than they could be noticed via CT scans.
These liquid biopsies could also help identify patients who are more likely to respond to therapy.
“Every cancer has a mutation that can be followed with this method,” the researchers said. “It is like bar coding the cancer in the blood.”
The standard detection techniques for cancer, and to determine the effectiveness of a cancer treatment seem quite vague- they rely on the improvement of the patient’s symptoms, which tend to vary with every individual.
Infact, many a times, doctors can even be fooled into thinking that a tumor is present, while it is already gone.
“When you are treating a patient — and we see this many times — your treatment is quite effective but there is some residual lesion on a scan,” experts add. “You take the patient to surgery for a biopsy, and all you see is scar tissue. There is no visible cancer there.”
This blood test could help researchers clearly determine if a treatment is working or not.