Liquid biopsy can help monitor colorectal cancer

Science and medicine have made rapid advancements in the area of colorectal cancer detection and treatment. Today, colorectal cancers are treatable and most of the patients have been known to lead a very normal life after it has been treated. However, disease monitoring for such patients is a huge challenge. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a routinely used biomarker for the surveillance in colorectal cancer patients which has been shown to be at elevated levels in the event of colorectal cancer. But, it has proved to be not a very reliable marker. Early detection is the basics of cancer research and any effort to increase detection of cancer at an early stage should be welcome. This is the reason, why liquid biopsy is known to help int he diagnosis and monitor colorectal cancer. Dr Shabnam Bashir, Associate Consultant Oncosurgery &Robotic Colorectal Cancer Surgeon & Dr Sudhir Borgonha, Chief Medical Officer, Strand Life Sciences explains liquid biopsy for colorectal cancer. You may also like to read about common tests to determine your risk of cancer!

What is liquid biopsy for colorectal cancer?

In recent years, a blood-based liquid biopsy approach for monitoring colorectal cancer has emerged and is about to enter the clinic. Using a liquid biopsy approach, the pathology lab can extract tumour DNA from a blood sample, which can be used for monitoring the disease progression. Healthy individuals shed very low levels of circulating nucleic acids in their blood due to constant tissue renewal. This delicate balance is thrown off when a person has developed cancer and the amount of DNA that finds its way into the bloodstream increases significantly, enough to be detectable by the latest laboratory and analysis techniques. Here’s more on liquid biopsy for cancer diagnosis.

Why is liquid biopsy better than other options?

Liquid biopsies are used to detect such circulating tumour cells and cDNAs screen (non-invasively) for early-stage cancers, to monitor responses to treatment especially in stage 4 cancers, as well as help explain why some cancers are resistant to certain therapies as they give us a real time evaluation of molecular biology. Therefore, this approach has become a promising new method for monitoring therapy response, disease progression and even relapse long before any other screening method would be able to detect that the cancer has relapsed. Do read about the stages of colon cancer – what does it mean?

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