Intratumoral heterogeneity is a major challenge for cancer treatment because cancer cells with different biological properties may have a different response to treatment. It is also possible that some cancer cells tolerate the treatment well enough to survive, which can lead to the recurrence of breast cancer later in life.
Time is a key factor in intratumoral heterogeneity
Liquid biopsy can be used to monitor intratumoral heterogeneity: Over time, the spectrum and properties of cancer cells tend to change, and sometimes in a direction that becomes more therapeutically complex, says lead author Jouni Kujala, a researcher at the University. A tissue biopsy will thus be representative only at time t, at the time of sampling, and cannot “capture” the evolution of intratumoral heterogeneity. Liquid biopsy opens up new possibilities for detecting cancerous mutations. With major benefits now well documented:
ease, safety and repeatability of sampling.
Towards a follow-up of cancerous mutations: By focusing on the acellular DNA released by the cancer cells, or circulating, which carries mutations characteristic of the cancerous tumor, the liquid biopsy can non-invasively detect cancerous mutations: “Our results show that the liquid biopsy can be used to detect cancerous mutations in both breast cancerous tumors and their metastases. Thus, liquid biopsy can, at least to some extent, be used to overcome the limitations of traditional biopsy. ”
Towards a more accurate clinical picture : when researchers observe, via liquid biopsy, the characteristic mutations of recurrent breast cancer in the acellular DNA of the months before the tumor is detected, for example during a medical examination, they are already able to assess changes in intratumoral heterogeneity and clarify the clinical picture.
Thus, liquid biopsy not only detects recurrent breast cancer, but also identifies mutations relevant to treatment planning. It is therefore a promising method that can provide complementary data to more traditional diagnostics.