Dr. Levy on the Application of Liquid Biopsies in NSCLC

Benjamin P. Levy, MD
Published: Tuesday, Jul 03, 2018



Benjamin P. Levy, MD, assistant professor of oncology, clinical director of medical oncology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, discusses the application of liquid biopsies in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Treatment options are not the only aspect of care that have undergone significant changes in NSCLC, says Levy—the diagnostic workup has also undergone tremendous changes in the past 3 to 4 years. Generally, a tissue biopsy has been seen as the gold standard, but liquid biopsies give physicians another means to detect and genomically characterize lung cancer.

Liquid biopsies pick up on circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) that is shed from the tumor. New technology has enabled physicians to pick up on ctDNA and perform genomic interrogation in patients with advanced NSCLC. Levy states that it is not uncommon for a solid tissue biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer. As a solid tissue biopsy is often insufficient for genomic testing, ctDNA can be used to determine genetic alterations, but Levy cautions that there are still logistical and clinical challenges to be ironed out.


Benjamin P. Levy, MD, assistant professor of oncology, clinical director of medical oncology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins Medicine, discusses the application of liquid biopsies in non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Treatment options are not the only aspect of care that have undergone significant changes in NSCLC, says Levy—the diagnostic workup has also undergone tremendous changes in the past 3 to 4 years. Generally, a tissue biopsy has been seen as the gold standard, but liquid biopsies give physicians another means to detect and genomically characterize lung cancer.

Liquid biopsies pick up on circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) that is shed from the tumor. New technology has enabled physicians to pick up on ctDNA and perform genomic interrogation in patients with advanced NSCLC. Levy states that it is not uncommon for a solid tissue biopsy to confirm a diagnosis of lung cancer. As a solid tissue biopsy is often insufficient for genomic testing, ctDNA can be used to determine genetic alterations, but Levy cautions that there are still logistical and clinical challenges to be ironed out.

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