Update on the Types and Usage of Liquid Biopsies in the Clinical Setting: A Systematic Review

BMC Cancer. 2018 May 4;18(1):527. doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4433-3.


Background: This systematic review aimed to gather evidence from research on the current state of liquid biopsy in medical practice, specifically focusing on mutation detection and monitoring.

Methods: A systematic search was performed via Medline.

Results: The results of this investigation indicate that liquid biopsy plays a critical role in the detection and management of tumors. This technique gives healthcare providers the ability to gather critical and reliable information that may potentially shape the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of a variety of cancers in the near future. This study further reveals that liquid biopsy has several potential shortcomings that may limit its application and use in the healthcare setting. Nevertheless, liquid biopsy remains a valuable tool that is gradually becoming a part of routine healthcare practice in oncology departments and hospitals worldwide.

Conclusions: The evidence described herein reveals the potential relevance of liquid biopsy as an important prognostic, diagnostic, and theranostic tool. This non-invasive procedure enables healthcare practitioners to detect and monitor genomic alterations and will likely replace tumor tissue biopsy as the standard method for detecting and monitoring mutations in the future. The information obtained herein can enable physicians to make informed decisions regarding current treatment options; however, liquid biopsy has not yet been incorporated into routine clinical diagnostics for cancer patients.

Keywords: Biomarker; Cancer diagnostics; Liquid biopsy; Tumor marker.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Humans
  • Liquid Biopsy
  • Medical Oncology / methods*
  • Medical Oncology / trends
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm