What is Liquid Biopsy and How Important it is for Cancer Patients?

Interested in getting a liquid biopsy in Singapore?

Advancements in medicine have made diagnosis, therapies, and treatments easier and better. One method that’s gaining interest in recent years is the liquid biopsy

What is Liquid Biopsy?

liquid biopsy singapore

Liquid biopsy is the process of collecting fluid samples from the body for testing on relevant biomarkers. Body fluids are known to contain genetic materials derived from tumors such as saliva, urine, and stool. 

Cancer patients can benefit from liquid biopsies in many ways. While DNA-testing of tissue biopsy samples is now widely accessible, some patients may not be eligible for this procedure. 

For example, a patient may not qualify if the tissue is in hard-to-reach areas, and accessing it can be too risky. Or, the tissue sample drawn isn’t enough for testing, or getting the procedure done and securing results can take too long.

Failure to undergo DNA testing can keep cancer patients from exploring more therapy or treatment options. Liquid biopsies offer a promising solution to this.

Advantages of Liquid Biopsies

  • When the tumors increase in volume, cell-free DNA is also released into the bloodstream. Laboratories and physicians can use blood drawn from the patient to study the DNA tumors in the bloodstream, making diagnosis possible even without tumor tissue.
  • Liquid biopsy allows comprehensive genome profiling using DNA next generation sequencing to test tumors and analyse the alterations in cancer growth, all in a non-invasive approach.  
  • It provides accurate detail of the tumor characteristic. It also allows samples to be taken in series, which helps in assessing drug resistance and tracking tumor progression. Tumor biopsy can only be done before the treatment so any changes during the therapy won’t be detected.
  • Liquid biopsies make it possible to monitor the progress you’re making in your therapies, in real-time. You can also take a liquid biopsy as often as needed. 
  • More often than not, the liquid biopsy also costs less than a tissue biopsy. 

Risks Involved in Liquid Biopsies

While liquid biopsies offer several advantages, they also have limitations. 

Liquid biopsy relies on detecting cell-free (cfDNA) DNA from tumors. Drawing samples can be challenging due to the low concentrations of cfDNA. This can also affect the precision of the exam. 

While liquid biopsy has already undergone several improvements, the approaches used by laboratories still vary. Sine methodologies aren’t standardized yet and technology platforms used by professionals also differ, it can be hard to achieve consensus as to the results. 

How Liquid Biopsies can Help Cancer Patients

While it’s true that there are still several hurdles in liquid biopsies, they also offer a promising solution for what tissue biopsies lack. Experts deem that they may replace the latter in the future. 

They can be helpful for cancer patients who want to minimise risks involved in testing, along with the pain and discomfort and high cost of tissue biopsies. Add to that the opportunity to detect reoccurrences early and monitor treatment results. 

To learn more about liquid biopsies and tissue biopsies, speak with your physician or medical team in Singapore for further advice. 

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