The Advantages of Breast Cancer Diagnosis Using a Liquid Biopsy Test

Breast cancer, further “BC”, is proven to be the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. There are approximately 232,000 cases of invasive BC and 60,000 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ diagnosed. Approximately 40,000 deaths occur every year. The good news is that 5-year survival rates are over 98 % if diagnosed early in a localized state.

Imaging, such as ultrasound, mammography, and magnetic resonance imaging have been the best way for BC detection. It has been under many studies and is suggested by the combination of a proteomic assay that imaging ambiguity could be mitigated.

A liquid biopsy offers advantages over a conventional cancer biopsy.  Patients can be tested more frequently since surgery is not needed. In addition, a liquid biopsy can provide a better picture of the patient’s cancer. Sequencing free-floating cancer DNA can better capture the diversity of genetic alterations found in cancer cells.

Two new studies from MSK researchers show that liquid biopsies provide valuable information about which genetic mutations may be driving certain breast cancers and helps predict how patients respond to new therapies. Both of these studies involved women whose BC were hormone receptor–positive. This means that their cancer cells bear receptors that pick up signals from hormones telling the cells to grow. These women often receive drugs called aromatase inhibitors. They stop or slow the growth of hormone sensitive tumors. Some patients develop resistance to these drugs, although aromatase inhibitors are usually effective. Researchers are studying therapies that combine new drugs with the conventional treatment.

These highlighted studies provide a glimpse into how the liquid biopsy has emerged as a powerful diagnostic and treatment tool. It is said that the liquid biopsy is a vital point for the medical community because a simple blood test proves to be quite sensitive in detecting very important alterations. Making breast cancer care more precise and effective requires finding out which cancers respond best to which treatments. This is key to helping breast cancer patients get better and more accurate treatments and evidently get better. 

These studies can be summarized in a few important highlights:

  • A liquid biopsy analyzes a blood sample for free-floating tumor DNA.
  • Two MSK studies show its value in testing response to breast cancer drugs
  • This approach can identify genetic mutations driving a patient’s cancer.
  • It also can help predict how well a patient will respond to a treatment.


Clinical Breast Cancer - A Noninvasive Blood-based Combinatorial Proteomic Biomarker Assay to Detect Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 50 Years

Memorial Sloan Ketter Cancer Center - Liquid Biopsy Shown to Be Effective in Assessing Response to Breast Cancer Drugs