Is science fiction becoming science fact? Liquid biopsies are a new class of blood- (or other bodily fluid-based) tests that can reveal direct evidence of cancer and are far less invasive than traditional biopsies. RGA's Dr. Daniel Zimmerman explores linkages between advances in genetics and this new technology. He also investigates limitations, potential mortality and morbidity impacts, and insurance implications.
Cancerous tumors shed whole cells or tiny bits of DNA and other genetic material into the bloodstream and other bodily fluids. This allows clinicians to potentially analyze blood samples to detect a tumor's unique mutations and offer a personalized treatment regimen, all without an invasive tissue biopsy.
Liquid biopsies are noninvasive tests that could potentially lead to early detection of cancer by identifying the genetic material cancerous tumors shed into the bloodstream and other bodily fluids. It is now possible to test for biomarkers such as circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). As these tests gain a foothold in clinical practice, insurance professionals must understand liquid biopsies and the implications for underwriting and product development.