- Liquid biopsy
- circulating tumor cells
In the blood of cancer patients, some nucleic acid fragments and tumor cells can be found that make it possible to trace tumor changes through a simple blood test called “liquid biopsy”. The main components of liquid biopsy are fragments of DNA and RNA shed by tumors into the bloodstream and circulate freely (ctDNAs and ctRNAs). Tumor cells which are shed into the blood (circulating tumor cells or CTCs), and exosomes that have been investigated for non-invasive detection and monitoring several tumors including thyroid cancer. Genetic and epigenetic alterations of a thyroid tumor can be a driver for tumor genesis or essential for tumor progression and invasion. Liquid biopsy can be real-time representative of such genetic and epigenetic alterations to trace tumors. In thyroid tumors, the circulating BRAF mutation is now taken into account for both thyroid cancer diagnosis and determination of the most effective treatment strategy. Several recent studies have indicated the ctDNA methylation pattern of some iodine transporters and DNA methyltransferase as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in thyroid cancer as well. There has been a big hope that the recent advances of genome sequencing together with liquid biopsy can be a game changer in oncology.