As promised from last weeks post regarding liquid biopsies in Australia, I spoke with a leading molecular pathology scientist who provided the following information, which I hope helps answer your questions.
Liquid biopsy is a new development in individualised cancer treatment and is an emerging technique which offers a non-invasive approach for identifying gene mutations.
Further clinical trials must be done nationally and internationally to assess the effectiveness of liquid biopsy and this is ongoing, both within Australia and internationally, especially in lung cancer
Currently reimbursement for liquid biopsy within Australia only applies if a patient has EGFR positive disease that has relapsed – they can be tested by a liquid biopsy for the T790M mutation.
Overseas, for example in the USA, a patient diagnosed with lung cancer may receive funding for a liquid biopsy through their insurance scheme and private suppliers. The current cost for a liquid biopsy that will test for many gene alterations is approximately $5000 US.
If the results of the ongoing research demonstrate the usefulness and cost effectiveness of liquid biopsy compared to a tissue biopsy, then the hope is that this non-invasive alternative for identifying genetic alterations will become established, as an accurate and effective test, as part of mainstream practice in diagnosing lung cancer.
The field of diagnostics and treatment in lung cancer has moved incredibly quickly in recent years and the next few years will be critical to demonstrate the benefits of this new test to increase its uptake.
Below are links to the Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre that will provide further information on Liquid biopsies.
Lung Cancer support nurse
Lung Foundation Australia