Blood Test Might Replace Bone Marrow Biopsy

Quest Diagnostics has been granted an exclusive license from The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center to use five proprietary blood testing methods, which, once available in the form of laboratory diagnostic tests, may eliminate the need for painful and expensive bone marrow and other tissue extractions. The tests are intended to provide a safer, less painful tool for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of leukemia and lymphoma in cancer patients. The initial tests are expected as early as the end of this year.

Current diagnostic and monitoring tests for leukemia and lymphoma patients often require patients to undergo painful procedures, such as bone marrow biopsies which require extraction of tissue with a large needle. The new tests have the potential to provide a more clinically useful assessment of prognosis, disease progression, and therapeutic success, which could enable oncologists to advance the efficacy of therapies.

"Our research has shown that testing for tumor onstituents in the blood provides a more clinically useful assessment of a patient's disease status because it shows what is happening in the entire body, compared with biopsies where a tissue sample only provides information about a specific area," said Michael J. Keating, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Deputy Department Chairman for the Department of Leukemia at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

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