Liquid Biopsy Diagnostic Tool

Penn Medicine’s Liquid Biopsy Laboratory develops and provides comprehensive liquid biopsy services — blood tests that detect materials shed from a tumor and can change the course of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Until recently, a tumor biopsy was the standard test to determine a cancer diagnosis and treatment plan. However, this approach can be invasive and inconclusive.

Liquid biopsies give fast, safe and non-surgical access to a tumor's genetic information so oncologists can more accurately diagnose and quickly treat patients with therapies that target their particular genetic mutations.

The Liquid Biopsy team at Penn Medicine recently published a report showing that liquid biopsy can almost double the rate of detection for treatable mutations in non-small cell lung cancer. This offers patients more treatment options and precise care with minimal discomfort — and is a reason why liquid biopsies are rapidly becoming a cornerstone of personalized cancer medicine.

"With a simple blood test, we can now get information that can change the course of a patient's cancer treatment, all without the invasiveness of a surgery," said Erica L. Carpenter, MBA, PhD, director of the Liquid Biopsy Lab. 

Other advantages to liquid biopsies include:

  • Reducing the “time to treat” 
  • Providing real-time monitoring of therapy throughout treatment with a simple blood draw
  • Providing an option for cancer patients unable to have a tissue biopsy
  • Having the potential to detect cancer early
  • Predicting when a patient may develop drug resistance and detect recurrences months earlier than conventional imaging methods
  • Having the potential to increase cancer survival gains through precision mutation targeting

The Impact of Liquid Biopsies

The Liquid Biopsy Lab:

  • Processes over 500 liquid biopsies per month and over 6,000 per year
  • Provides comprehensive liquid biopsy services for lung cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, renal cell carcinoma, pancreatic cancer, glioblastoma, multiple myeloma, hepatocellular carcinoma, breast cancer, esophageal cancer and bladder cancer
  • Collaborates on 20+ clinical trials

“The Liquid Biopsy Lab is having a profound effect on lung cancer patients at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. The ever-expanding number of targeted therapies for our patients has been accompanied by a need for precision, and real-time diagnostics with the liquid biopsy has ushered a paradigm shift in lung cancer care," said Corey Langer, MD, the director of Thoracic Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center.