liquid-biopsy austin tx

Will Liquid Biopsy Revolutionize Cancer Diagnosis?

By Ruthie Harper, MD | Austin, TX

Cancer is a term used to refer to a group of diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and destroy healthy tissues in the body. Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and is responsible for millions of deaths every year. Historically, tissue biopsies have been the go-to method for diagnosing cancer. Fortunately, medical researchers have developed a new tool – liquid biopsy – that can potentially revolutionize the way we diagnose cancer.

What Is a Liquid Biopsy for Cancer?

A company called Grail now performs these liquid biopsies for early detection of cancer. Grail is a simple blood test that analyzes DNA fragments using a small sample of blood. The process looks for tiny pieces of genetic material that are shed by tumors into the bloodstream, known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). This process is highly sensitive and accurate, with a detection rate of over 90%.

Traditional cancer biopsies are invasive and can put patients at risk for complications. They are also difficult to perform on tumors that are deep-seated or hard to access. In contrast, the liquid biopsies are a simple, non-invasive blood test that can detect cancer in its early stages before it spreads.

Earlier Cancer Diagnosis with Liquid Biopsy

Through early diagnosis, patients can receive treatment earlier, which can increase their chances of survival. Studies have shown that people who are diagnosed with cancer in the early stages have a higher likelihood of survival when compared to those who are diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer. For instance, according to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent when it is detected early, but only 27 percent if it is detected at a later stage.

In addition, when cancer is detected early, doctors can initiate treatment with less-invasive procedures as well as prevent the cancer from spreading, which in turn can lead to additional treatment options that might not have been available if the cancer had been allowed to progress. So early diagnosis not only ensures more effective treatment, it  also reduces the need for more aggressive treatments. Timely diagnosis is almost always associated with better patient outcomes and higher survival rates.

Liquid biopsies have the potential to transform cancer care by diagnosing various types of cancer, including those that are currently hard to detect, like ovarian, pancreatic or gastric cancers. Additionally, liquid biopsies have the ability to monitor cancer in patients more frequently to understand how the cancer is responding to treatment. Blood samples can be taken at various intervals, using the liquid biopsy process to detect if cancer cells are remaining or growing.

The Future of Liquid Biopsy for Cancer

Liquid biopsy technology is an innovative and promising approach to cancer diagnosis. If the technology becomes widely available for general usage, it has the potential to transform the way we diagnose and treat cancer. While it is still early in the process, liquid biopsy technology could change the way cancer is diagnosed, and the resultant benefits mean we should be excited about the future of early cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Despite its promise, liquid biopsies still have limitations. A primary limitation is that it can only detect tumors that are leaky, secreting cancer-related components into the bloodstream. Also, because this technology is new, liquid biopsies can cost a lot more than traditional tissue biopsies. Nevertheless, as liquid biopsy becomes more common, the cost of the test is expected to drop, making it easier for patients to access this innovative diagnostic tool.

The future of liquid biopsy is exciting, with more and more research underway to improve the accuracy of the test, identify cancer recurrence, and target personalized treatments. Liquid biopsy is expected to play a significant role in the early detection of cancer, allowing doctors to treat patients earlier on, increasing chances of survival.

Liquid Biopsy for Cancer | Austin TX

Liquid biopsy is an exciting technology that has the potential to revolutionize cancer diagnosis. By detecting cancer biomarkers in the liquid component of blood, it can provide valuable information about a patient’s cancer status, monitor the effects of treatment, and potentially improve overall survival chances. Just like any new technology, there are limitations, but the future of liquid biopsy looks promising. As liquid biopsy becomes more widespread and accessible, it could become the go-to method to diagnose cancer quickly and reliably.

At Ruthie Harper MD, our practice takes an integrative or complementary approach to medicine that considers the whole person, including their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. We offer a personalized approach to healthcare that treats the whole person rather than just their physical symptoms.

Unlike traditional medicine, which often relies on the use of pharmaceuticals or invasive procedures to treat symptoms, integrative medicine encourages individuals to take control of their health and wellness by promoting natural solutions that incorporate lifestyle changes, nutrition, and complementary therapies.

As a board-certified internist, Ruthie Harper MD combines the best of conventional Western medicine with alternative therapies, allowing patients to receive a tailored treatment plan that addresses their individual needs. By asking the “why” of symptoms and disease rather than simply the “what disease do you have” we are able to get to the root cause of your problems and achieve better overall health outcomes with reduced side effects.

Our goal for each patient is to provide a more customized and effective approach to healthcare that can improve the quality of life for all individuals.