We summarized the recent findings of liquid biopsy in cancer field and discussed its potential utility in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Literature published in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Science Direct electronic databases was searched and reviewed.
Liquid biopsy specially referred to the detection of nucleic acids (circulating cell-free DNA, cfDNA) and circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood of cancer patients. Compared to conventional single-site sampling or biopsy method, liquid biopsy had the advantages such as non-invasiveness, dynamic monitoring, and the most important of all, overcoming the limit of spatial and temporal heterogeneity. The genomic information of cancer could be profiled by genotyping cfDNA/CTC and subsequently applied to make molecular classification, targeted therapy guidance, and unveil drug resistance mechanisms. The serial sampling feature of liquid biopsy made it possible to monitor treatment response in a real-time manner and predict tumor metastasis/recurrence in advance.
Liquid biopsy is a non-invasive, dynamic, and informative sampling method with important clinical translational significance in cancer research and practice. Much work needs to be done before it is used in the management of HCC.