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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The potential for liquid biopsies in the precision medical treatment of breast cancer


Currently the clinical management of breast cancer relies on relatively few prognostic/predictive clinical markers (estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, HER2), based on primary tumor biology. Circulating biomarkers, such as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) or circulating tumor cells (CTCs) may enhance our treatment options by focusing on the very cells that are the direct precursors of distant metastatic disease, and probably inherently different than the primary tumor's biology. To shift the current clinical paradigm, assessing tumor biology in real time by molecularly profiling CTCs or ctDNA may serve to discover therapeutic targets, detect minimal residual disease and predict response to treatment. This review serves to elucidate the detection, characterization, and clinical application of CTCs and ctDNA with the goal of precision treatment of breast cancer.

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