A rack of blood test tubes

My Experience with Liquid Biopsies

After I was finished with the first clinical trial I participated in, my oncologist started me on an experimental drug that was for a different type of cancer. It worked so well, and I was on that treatment for close to 3 years.

The shock of a new cancer growth

I remember going into the hospital for my routine scan and thinking that it would be a stable scan just like the last how many ever scans were. I was in for a shock when my oncologist told me that there was a new cancer growth in two lymph nodes in my abdomen. I was in the appointment by myself and pre-coved that was a rare occasion. I remember going over a few details with the doctor and being handed a box and then instructed to go to the lab area to wait to have some blood drawn. This was my second experience with a liquid biopsy. The end result for this blood biopsy showed that I still had an EGFR exon 19 mutation as well as MET amplification.

What is a liquid biopsy?

For the patient, a liquid biopsy is simply a blood draw. There is a test kit with some blood tubes. The nurse fills the tubes and then it is shipped to one of a very few places to be examined. A liquid biopsy is a non-invasive alternative to the more common types of lung biopsies. 1 Other types of biopsies include needle biopsy, transbronchial lung biopsy, thoracoscopic biopsy, and open biopsy. 2 Liquid biopsies can be used to see if there is cancer in a new patient but it is mostly used to find changes in cancer that have already been treated and have progressed or metastasized.

Where are liquid biopsies sent?

Where are liquid biopsies sent? Sometimes a liquid biopsy is examined in-house at your cancer center but other times it is sent to a lab. I have had both experiences. There are different types of liquid biopsies but I will not be going into that much detail in this blog.

Why would you choose a liquid biopsy?

Why would you choose a liquid biopsy over the other types of biopsies mentioned? I have found that there is a time and a place for all biopsies. Each situation is different for every patient. Tumor location is the biggest reason someone chooses a liquid biopsy over the other options. Other reasons to use a liquid biopsy over other options include being able to do multiple tests over a period of time, and that it can be the safer option.

A big push for liquid biopsies

In recent years there has been a big push for this type of biopsy as it is the less invasive of the options. It is a simple test and the turnaround time to get results can be as little as a few days but most typically around 7-14 days.

Imperfect systems

The downfall to this type of biopsy is that it can yield inconclusive results. Because of this, it can give a false positive or a false negative result. Let me know in the comments what experiences you have had with liquid biopsies.

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