Blood Test Instead of Biopsy for Metastatic Prostate Cancer

Excerpt:

“There has been a lot of buzz recently about the use of ‘liquid biopsies’ and how these blood tests that show cancer may be able to replace the need for tissue biopsies.

“The latest study shows that such a test could be useful in metastatic prostate cancer, where the biopsy sample would need to be taken from bone, which is painful, risky, and expensive, says an expert.

“This study used the Guardant360 test and found that cell-free, circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) was detected in most patients (94%) with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Testing for Tumor Mutations: Liquid Biopsy Versus Traditional Biopsy


Liquid biopsies, virtually unknown even a year or two ago, are becoming common tools in precision diagnostics for cancer. Here, I will try to explain some of the more important differences between liquid and “traditional” tumor biopsies.

Biopsies of solid tumors (e.g., lung, breast, or brain tumors) involve surgically removing a small part of a tumor and sending it to pathology lab. In the last few years, doctors have also started to send some tumor samples to special service labs that analyze tumor DNA for the presence of cancer-related mutations.

By definition, regular biopsies can be intrusive and are sometimes associated with side effects, such as bleeding or infection. However, they provide some really essential information; i.e., the histology and grade of the tumor and other tumor characteristics necessary to determine the best choice of treatment. For lung cancer, for example, a biopsy determines the type of tumor—adenocarcinoma, squamous cancer, small-cell lung cancer, or another, less common type. For breast cancer, a routine test will determine if the tumor expresses estrogen, progesterone receptors, and a protein called HER2. These tests are critically important in guiding treatment choices. If mutational analysis of cancer-related genes is also performed (which doesn’t always happen, unfortunately), it may guide treatment with targeted drugs. Continue reading…


One Patient, Two Cancer DNA Tests, Two Different Results

Excerpt:

“A couple years ago, Sibel Blau, an oncologist outside of Seattle, was working with the company Guardant Health to test their novel ‘liquid biopsies’ in patients. The idea behind liquid biopsies is both elegant and promising. A doctor takes a blood sample from a patient, and then Guardant looks for tumor DNA floating in the blood, allowing doctors to identify the tumor’s unique mutations and offer a personalized drug regimen—all without an invasive tissue biopsy. Blau was excited to be on board.

“When that study wrapped up, Blau still had Guardant test kits left over, so she offered some to her patients at no cost to them. At this point, Blau was routinely ordering DNA sequencing of traditional tissue biopsies, so some patients got both tests. The tissue DNA test from Foundation Medicine was “routine” in her practice, but even that test had only become available in 2012. The field of cancer DNA has been changing fast.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Case for Liquid Biopsies Builds in Advanced Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“For patients with advanced lung cancer, a non-invasive liquid biopsy may be a more effective and suitable alternative to the gold standard tissue biopsy to detect clinically relevant mutations and help guide their course of treatment, suggests a new study published this week in the journal Clinical Cancer Research from researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania(ACC).

“In patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated at Penn’s ACC, mutations detected from liquid biopsies (cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) captured from blood) closely paralleled the mutations from tissue biopsies identified in next generation sequencing tests: EGRF, TP53, and ALK, to name a few. What’s more, in several cases, liquid biopsies captured clinically relevant mutations not found in tissue biopsies as patients’ disease progressed.”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Liquid Biopsies for Identification of EGFR Mutations and Prediction of Recurrence

Excerpt:

“Three manuscripts published in the recent issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), explored the versatility of liquid biopsies by identifying EGFR mutations using circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in urine and plasma and examining circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in plasma to predict the risk of lung cancer recurrence after surgical resection. Collectively, these findings illustrate the potential and reach of liquid biopsies in both identifying patients suitable for targeted treatment as well as predicting cancer recurrence.

“Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer with the highest cancer-related mortality worldwide. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for roughly 85% of lung cancer and most patients present with advanced disease at diagnosis. Surgical resection is the preferred treatment option for patients with medically operable tumors. However, disease recurrence occurs in approximately 50% of cases. Patients with advanced disease are often not candidates for surgical resection and commonly harbor driver mutations that can be targeted by drugs. A major challenge for assessing driver mutations, such as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations, in advanced disease is the scarcity of suitable biopsy tissue for molecular testing. A minimally invasive alternative to invasive tissue biopsy is the use of liquid biopsy, which analyzes ctDNA or CTCs in a liquid biological sample (i.e. urine, blood, or serum).”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Lung Cancer Highlights from ASCO 2016


This year, the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) did not produce any truly groundbreaking revelations about new treatments for lung cancer. However, researchers did report quite a few positive findings, and some disappointing ones. I have summarized some of the more prominent presentations below. Continue reading…


Can Liquid Biopsies and Tumor Biomarkers Personalize Prostate Cancer Treatment?

Excerpt:

“Experimental, minimally invasive ‘liquid biopsy’ blood tests might soon help to personalize prostate cancer treatment by predicting androgen resistance and survival benefits from particular treatments, researchers announced at the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, held June 3–7 in Chicago.

“Liquid biopsies detect circulating tumor cells (CTCs) or bits of tumor DNA (ctDNA). Not all tumors shed cells or DNA into a patient’s bloodstreams, but most do. And when they do, they can reveal a lot about themselves—including molecular signatures that can be targeted with specific treatments.

“Recent years have seen an explosion of candidate biomarkers for prostate cancer and other malignancies, including both liquid biopsies and tumor-sample gene panels. Most candidate biomarkers have been prognostic gene-mutation signatures that can estimate patient survival regardless of what treatment strategies are attempted. These prognostic tests can be useful for risk-stratifying patients who are participating in clinical studies, or in communicating prognosis to a patient and his loved ones.”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Presence of AR-V7 in Circulating Tumor Cells Validated as Predictive Biomarker for Advanced Prostate Cancer Treatment by Memorial Sloan Kettering and Epic Sciences

Excerpt:

“Detecting AR-V7 positive tumor cells circulating in the blood of an advanced prostate cancer patient predicts that he will not only fail the commonly-prescribed androgen receptor signaling inhibitors (ARSI), abiraterone and enzalutamide, but that he will survive significantly longer if treated with a taxane based chemotherapy regimen.

“This discovery, published today in JAMA Oncology, emerged from a study of 161 progressing metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients about to start an FDA approved ARSIs or taxane as a first, second or third line treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Blood samples taken along with those routinely collected from the patients were analyzed on the Epic Sciences’ liquid biopsy platform for circulating tumor cells (CTCs) with the AR-V7 biomarker. Overall, almost 20% of patients had AR-V7 positive CTCs.

” ‘The percentage of men that responds to ARSIs is highest in the first line setting, decreasing steadily as more treatments are given. We found that a novel liquid biopsy for AR-V7 was able to identify, with specificity, patients who will not benefit from these therapies and should instead start chemotherapy independent of the line of therapy being administered,’ said Howard Scher, M.D., chief of the genitourinary oncology services at MSK and corresponding author for the study.”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


'Liquid Biopsy' Blood Test Detects Genetic Mutations in Common Form of Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“A simple blood test can rapidly and accurately detect mutations in two key genes in non-small cell lung tumors, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and other institutions report in a new study – demonstrating the test’s potential as a clinical tool for identifying patients who can benefit from drugs targeting those mutations.

“The , known as a , proved so reliable in the study that the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) this week became the first medical facility in the country to offer it to all patients with non-small cell  (NSCLC), either at the time of first diagnosis or of relapse following previous treatment.

“NSCLC is the most common form of lung cancer, diagnosed in more than 200,000 people in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 30 percent of NSCLC patients have  in either of the genes included in the study, and can often be treated with targeted therapies. The study is being published online today by the journal JAMA Oncology.”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.