Liquid biopsies are tests that are carried out on bodily fluids such as blood, urine and saliva. Because they are minimally invasive and easier to perform than traditional tissue biopsies, many researchers are working to develop liquid biopsies for detecting cancer earlier and monitoring recurrence after treatment.
Dr Felix Clanchy (Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences) has reviewed recent research into liquid biopsies for earlier detection of relapse in sarcomas in an article published in the journal Cancers. Sarcomas are cancers of the bone and connective tissue that are treated by surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Following treatment, patients are currently monitored for recurrence using methods that are not sufficiently sensitive or specific. Given the tendency for sarcomas to spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream, liquid biopsies using blood samples presents an attractive option for improved monitoring. Timely identification of relapse allows for earlier intervention and better outcomes for patients.
This review discusses the options for the early detection of sarcoma relapse using blood-based tests and focuses on a particular group of chromosomal rearrangements involving the EWSR1 gene, which are common in sarcoma. Dr Clanchy describes the different EWSR1 rearrangements in various sub-types of sarcoma and reviews the different techniques for sarcoma monitoring via liquid biopsies in practice.
This work is funded by a CRUK Early Detection Primer Award.