Lung cancer advances

(NBC) A blood test, called a liquid biopsy, offers doctors new insight into a person’s lung cancer.

Dr. Geoff Oxnard, a Thoracic Oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, says this new blood test will help in selecting the proper treatment.

"A blood test, a non-invasive way of understanding what the lung cancer is thinking." says Oxnard

It helped shape lung cancer patient Jeannie Larson’s treatment. Her stage four lung cancer became resistant to her medication.

The liquid biopsy found specific cancer mutations floating in her blood, alerting doctors that her tumor could be treated by yet another drug..

"If I hadn’t gotten on the drug, I wouldn’t be sitting here feeling as well as I do." says Larson

Conventional lung tissue biopsies are invasive and can be risky, painful and take more than a month for results.

The liquid biopsy tested at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston gives doctors results in three days.

"If we can get a quick result in a couple of days that tells us where to go next, instead of spending weeks trying to figure out how to get a biopsy and get those results, we can accelerate the ability to give effective targeted therapy to that patient." says Dr. Oxnard

When the results are positive, doctors say the blood test is just as accurate as the tissue biopsy.

If it does not pick up the cancer mutations, a traditional lung biopsy must still be done.

For now the liquid biopsy test is only used to help guide treatment for lung cancer patients.

A blood test to diagnose lung cancer is still years away.

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