Liquid Biopsies Improve Ovarian Cancer Recurrence Detection


Ovarian cancer among the highest death rates for all gynecological cancers.

Liquid biopsies can detect ovarian cancer recurrence long before the tumor reappears, a new study found.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, included 10 patients with advanced stages of ovarian cancer who had their blood drawn before and after surgery. Researchers used mate-pair sequencing to compare DNA from the liquid blood biopsies to DNA tissue samples taken from the tumor.

“In this study, the blood drawn before and after surgery and the surgical tissue was used to identify DNA fragments with abnormal junctions that can only be seen in this patient’s tumor DNA,” said researcher George Vasmatzis, PhD. “Next generation mate-pair sequencing was used to identify specific DNA changes of the tumor to create an individualized monitoring panel for liquid biopsy. This allows us to shape treatment to the individual patient rather than using a standard treatment that may not work for everyone.”

The results of the study revealed that when post-surgery DNA matched the tumor, patients had recurrence of ovarian cancer later on. When the post-surgery DNA did not match the tumor DNA, patients were found to be in remission.

In 2015, more than 21,000 women in the United States were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 died from the disease, the study cited. Often, the tumor cannot be detected until the late stages of the disease, causing ovarian cancer to have one of the highest death rates of all gynecological cancers.

Although most patients go into remission after the initial treatment, the tumor ends up returning 75% of the time, and typically does not respond to chemotherapy.

“With liquid biopsies, we don’t have to wait for tumor growth to get a DNA sample,” Vasmatzis said. “This important discovery makes it possible for us (to) detect recurrence of the disease earlier than other diagnostic methods. We can repeat liquid biopsies to monitor the progression of the cancer. That gives hope of a better treatment plan over time.”

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