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Future Oncol. 2012 Aug;8(8):989-98. doi: 10.2217/fon.12.91.

Fluid biopsy for solid tumors: a patient's companion for lifelong characterization of their disease.

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Billings Clinic Cancer Center, Billings, MT, USA.


Cancer is currently diagnosed and treated based on the results of a tissue biopsy of the primary tumor or a metastasis using invasive techniques such as surgical resection or needle biopsy. New technology for retrieving cancer cells from the circulation, developed in the last 5 years, has made it possible to obtain a 'fluid biopsy' from the bloodstream without the need for an invasive procedure. This technological development makes it possible to diagnose and manage cancer from a blood test rather than from a traditional biopsy. It also allows the repeated sampling of cancer cells from a patient, making it possible, in a practical manner, to interrogate the disease repeatedly in order to understand the mechanisms by which cancer cells evolve within a given individual. The ability to obtain cancer cells repeatedly also has the potential to substantially advance drug development by enabling early ex vivo validation of both targets and early-stage compounds, as well as creating new efficiencies in the drug development process during clinical trials.

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