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Dr. Corcoran on Future of Liquid Biopsies in GI Cancers

Ryan B. Corcoran, MD, PhD
Published: Thursday, Dec 27, 2018



Ryan B. Corcoran, MD, PhD, clinical researcher, Massachusetts General Hospital, assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, discusses the future role of liquid biopsies in gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.

The most exciting applications for liquid biopsies in this space are the ones that are on the horizon, Corcoran says. Down the road, researchers hope liquid biopsies can be used as an early-detection method. Identifying patients with early-stage disease in a more readily available fashion can potentially lead to easier curative strategies and a transformation of the way patients with GI cancers are treated.

In the nearer future, liquid biopsies have the most potential in the perioperative setting for patients with early-stage disease, specifically in the detection of subclinical residual disease. Corcoran notes that typically the only way solid tumors are cured is by surgically removing all remaining cancer cells. However, a percentage of patients will have residual disease in other sites, and this will evade detection until the cancer has recurred. Liquid biopsies are a way to locate these virtually undetectable cancer cells, and physicians can potentially eliminate the need for toxic adjuvant therapy.
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Ryan B. Corcoran, MD, PhD, clinical researcher, Massachusetts General Hospital, assistant professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, discusses the future role of liquid biopsies in gastrointestinal (GI) cancers.

The most exciting applications for liquid biopsies in this space are the ones that are on the horizon, Corcoran says. Down the road, researchers hope liquid biopsies can be used as an early-detection method. Identifying patients with early-stage disease in a more readily available fashion can potentially lead to easier curative strategies and a transformation of the way patients with GI cancers are treated.

In the nearer future, liquid biopsies have the most potential in the perioperative setting for patients with early-stage disease, specifically in the detection of subclinical residual disease. Corcoran notes that typically the only way solid tumors are cured is by surgically removing all remaining cancer cells. However, a percentage of patients will have residual disease in other sites, and this will evade detection until the cancer has recurred. Liquid biopsies are a way to locate these virtually undetectable cancer cells, and physicians can potentially eliminate the need for toxic adjuvant therapy.

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