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Struggles in Full Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer

Thursday, April 16, 2020

With minimally invasive procedures to test lung cancer tumors, there often isn't enough tissue to undergo a full biomarker test, pointing toward the strength of liquid biopsies, explained Lynette M. Sholl, MD, chief of thoracic pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.


One of the biggest challenges we face in the lung cancer space is availability of tissue for complete biomarker characterization. Many times, patients will undergo minimally invasive procedures to get diagnostic tissue. Those are typically very small biopsies. I think the great thing about minimally invasive procedures is that they're minimally invasive and they have a relatively small number of adverse effects for the patients in terms of bleeding or other complications.

But the downside, of course, is that you don't get very much material to work with. So you have a little bit of material to make your diagnosis and then you try to squeeze a lot more information out of those tissues. We end up seeing somewhere around 30% of tissue biopsies actually being insufficient to generate complete biomarker testing in our lung cancer patients. That's really where I think the strength of liquid biopsies emerges.

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