Chances are you know someone that has suffered from some form of cancer. It is a debilitating disease that strikes millions of people each year. It was recently estimated that 7.6 million people in the US die each year from some form of cancer and we spend over 87 billion dollars a year on cancer treatments. That is a significant amount of money to spend on treatment of a disease that is killing such a large number of people.
What if there was a way to detect cancer earlier, and in those that are diagnosed with cancer, provide insight on proper treatment that will actually help cure the disease? Many would say they would consider that a miracle. Well, your miracle may have arrived!
Currently, there is a new technology called liquid biopsy that may revolutionize how cancer is detected. This technology has been tested and used for years in China, and recently has been perfected by Guardant Health in California.
Because cancer is so difficult to treat and often is not detected until the cancer is in advanced stages, it has been difficult for physicians to manage the disease. Although biopsies can give physicians small clues about the cancer and treatment, they are often only performed once because of the increased risk of infection and the costs associated.
Liquid biopsy is completed with the draw of your blood. This blood test can detect changes in the genetic structure of cancer cells, by capturing the dead genetic material that has dropped off living cancer cells and have entered the blood stream. By sequencing the DNA, it can provide information to the current state of the cancer and even map out which drug therapies to try.
Currently, Guardant Health is performing thousands of these tests annually. They are working to scale up their operations and infrastructure to handle more. While the test results can be turned around in less than two weeks, the cost of the test is still somewhat high. They are hopeful that the cost will come down over time. The cost of the test by Guardant (called Guardant360) is less expensive than a traditional biopsy, and considered by many to be a price well worth the information that it is providing.
Imagine having a simple blood test as a periodic test to detect cancer in the early stages where the prognosis and treatment are much more favorable for the patient. This early warning system not only will save lives, but will lessen the treatment costs by determining which treatment will work best for the type of cancer presented.