Liquid biopsies are being researched as a possible alternative to tissue biopsies in the confirmation of cancer diagnoses.
Currently, liquid biopsies are blood tests used in the treatment of patients already diagnosed with cancer to compare DNA circulating in the blood with biopsied tissue.
Now John Hopkins scientists have developed a blood test that can identify DNA specific to four types of cancer.
During a study of 200 patients, scientists at the John Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Research Centre used the blood test to detect early stages of these types of cancer before they are usually diagnosed.
Although there is a long way to go before these types of tests could replace existing procedures, the research is promising.
Certain types of cancers are very high risk because they present at late stages. Blood tests would be ideal as an early screening option for people at high risk for these types of cancers since they could be tested regularly with no adverse effects.
In low income countries, particularly in remote communities, late stage presentation is common because pathology services are limited. Liquid biopsies could be a low cost and time efficient solution for these communities.
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