Nearly 100 former cancer patients tested for leftover cancer DNA at University of Iowa Health Care

Iowa City-based University of Iowa Health Care has tested nearly 100 former cancer patients for the presence of leftover cancer DNA through the use of a liquid biopsy, according to NBC affiliate KWQC-TV.

The Signatera liquid biopsy can identify and quantify remaining cancer DNA in colorectal cancer patients who have undergone surgery. The use of the liquid biopsy has been expanded to other gastrointestinal cancers as well, Pashtoon Kasi, MD, clinical assistant professor in University of Iowa Health Care's oncology division told KWQC-TV. The health system is among the first hospitals in the country to be a part of the expanded access program for GI cancer patients.

The test can even detect small traces of circulating cancer DNA, or ctDNA, in a patient, and it can do so a year before scans can detect the cancer.

"That's why right now if somebody is cured after their surgery, we still see them for 'x' number of years because we don't have a crystal ball to know who's the one who's cured, who's the one who's not," Dr. Kaso said to the station.

The test can help patients avoid chemotherapy after surgery if they don't need it.

"Right now, arbitrarily, everybody gets some chemo afterward to mop up, simplistically, what may have been left behind," Dr. Kasi said. The test can help determine who actually needs chemo after cancer surgery, KWQC-TV reports.

More articles on oncology:
FDA approves HPV vaccine to prevent head and neck cancers
Moffitt Cancer Center's $400M hospital construction to start in July
How cancer clinical trials have changed during the pandemic


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