Understanding liquid biopsy

A non-invasive alternative to tissue biopsy

A biopsy can provide crucial information that aids diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction of response to treatment. However, it can be difficult to obtain enough tissue from the biopsy for multiple tests; and in some cases, it may not be possible for patients to undergo standard tissue biopsy procedures due to their health or the location of the tumour.1

Liquid biopsy, a non-invasive sampling alternative, can help overcome the challenges associated with obtaining tumour tissue samples. It allows labs to test peripheral blood obtained from the patient with a simple blood draw.2

pathology path illustration

DNA fragments released into the bloodstream by apoptotic or necrotic tumour cells (referred to as circulating tumor DNA or ctDNA) serve as cancer biomarkers. Liquid biopsy can be used to analyze ctDNA to aid diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring for therapy resistance.2 Liquid biopsies may also detect disease recurrence prior to clinical symptoms or appearance on imaging scans.3,4,5

While tissue biopsy still remains the standard of care, there is growing evidence in the advantage of liquid biopsies for detecting mutations in real time. Liquid biopsy is supported by medical societies for use in NSCLC.6,7,8

Liquid Biopsy cell-fee DNA collection tube with genes

From sample collection to PCR testing, and NGS

Roche is bringing new possibilities to clinical research and diagnostics. Redefine your approach to oncology, diagnostic testing and research with the Roche's Liquid Biopsy Portfolio.


  1. Oellerich M, Schütz E, Beck J, et al. Using circulating cell-free DNA to monitor personalized cancer therapy. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2017;54(3):205-218. doi:10.1080/10408363.2017.1299683.
  2. Rolfo C, Castiglia M, Hong D, et al. Liquid biopsies in lung cancer: the new ambrosia of researchers. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014;1846(2):539-546. doi:10.1016/j.bbcan.2014.10.001.
  3. Crowley E, Di Nicolantonio F, Loupakis F, Bardelli A. Liquid biopsy: monitoring cancer-genetics in the blood. Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2013;10(8):472-484. doi:10.1038/nrclinonc.2013.110.
  4. Mattox AK, Bettegowda C, Zhou S, Papadopoulos N, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B. Applications of liquid biopsies for cancer. Sci Transl Med. 2019;11(507). doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aay1984.
  5. Francis G, Stein S. Circulating Cell-Free Tumour DNA in the Management of Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2015;16(6):14122-14142. doi:10.3390/ijms160614122.
  6. Aarthy R, Mani S, Velusami S, Sundarsingh S, Rajkumar T. Role of Circulating Cell-Free DNA in Cancers. Mol Diagn Ther. 2015;19(6):339-350. doi:10.1007/s40291-015-0167-y.
  7. NCCN Clinica Practice Guidelines - NSCLC v2.2020 - Dec 2019
  8. Lindeman NI, Cagle PT, Aisner DL, et al. Updated Molecular Testing Guideline for the Selection of Lung Cancer Patients for Treatment With Targeted Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors: Guideline From the College of American Pathologists, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and the Association for Molecular Pathology. J Thorac Oncol. 2018;13(3):323-358. doi:10.1016/j.jtho.2017.12.001.