Cancer treatment and tumor-informed residual disease testing

"Life can feel full of uncertainty when battling cancer, with few guarantees. 'Is there still cancer in my body?' and 'Will it come back?' are common questions that have long been difficult to answer confidently until recently. Advances in next-generation sequencing — and a growing understanding of how our bodies respond to illness and treatment — have brought us closer than ever to predicting our individual futures, at least when it comes to cancer.

In recent years, cancer researchers have embraced new noninvasive technologies that can detect small amounts of DNA shed by tumors into the blood, also known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA). This is no easy feat, as ctDNA is extremely scarce after surgery and treatment — as low as a single molecule in a tube of blood. But by broadly sequencing one’s tumor, we can identify its unique genetic signature, allowing for the creation of a highly sensitive and personalized assay that can track cancer in the body over time."

Alexey Aleshin is a hematology-oncology physician and health care executive. He can be reached on Twitter @aaleshin.

He shares his story and discusses his KevinMD article, "Tumor-informed residual disease testing can help inform cancer treatment."

Reflect and earn 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 CME for this episode.

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