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Lung Cancer Q&A: When Should Patients Consider Getting a Liquid Biopsy?

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Published on February 8, 2019

Where do liquid biopsies fit in with lung cancer care? Noted lung cancer expert Dr. Theresa Boyle, from the Moffitt Cancer Center, joined Patient Power to discuss the purpose and value of a liquid biopsy, and explain how the test results are used to make treatment decisions. Watch now to learn more.

This is a Patient Empowerment Network program produced by Patient Power, in partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center. We thank AbbVie, Inc., Celgene Corporation, Foundation Medicine, and Novartis for their support.

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Transcript | Lung Cancer Q&A: When Should Patients Consider Getting a Liquid Biopsy?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That's how you’ll get care that's most appropriate for you.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

So, Dr. Boyle, just help us to understand this idea of liquid biopsy. Because I know over the last few years sometimes there’s been a concern—I don’t know who does it. Whether a surgeon does it. Who does it? To get a lung biopsy and as much tissue as they can. But you’re saying, “Well, I need more to make other decisions.” Where does liquid biopsy come in now, basically a blood test, to help inform targeted, well-informed lung cancer care?

Dr. Boyle:                   

Right. Right. Yes. Pathologists always want more tissue, but now we have an alternative. And sometimes an alternative gets the results faster back to the oncologist and the patient. And that’s the blood testing. And it has less risk than taking a sample from the lung. Now, the interpretation of the results from the liquid or the blood specimen is a little different than the interpretation from a tissue specimen. And when you get a positive result from the small amounts of cell-free DNA circulating in the blood, you can really count on it. And the oncologist can treat the patient with a targeted therapy based on that.

There are times when the results are all negative and you don’t know if the results are negative, because there just wasn’t enough cell-free DNA in the blood or because the tumor is truly negative for all the mutations being checked. And so that’s where it really is important to follow up with tissue testing. So, it’s been really a great advance in the field to be able to test with a specimen that’s much more easily available and can be tested right away.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.