Toward the end of the 19th century, a French doctor named Ernest Besnier coined the term â€œbiopsy,â€� combining the Greek bios (life) and opsis (a sight). In the decades since, clinicians have performed countless biopsies on suspected cancer patients, all to catch a glimpse of cells on the brink of growing out of control. This year alone, more than a million breast biopsies will be performed in the U.S.
These potentially life-saving procedures come at a price, both in finances and flesh, as they require clinicians to carve out pieces of tissue or suck up cells with a large needle. But what if cancer could be caught, not with these costly methods, but through a less invasive blood draw? Mayo Clinic researchers believe that may be possible in the not-too-distant future.
â€œThatâ€™s the Holy Grail. Itâ€™s what everybody is hoping for,â€� said Fergus Couch, Ph.D., a cancer geneticist. Dr. Couch and dozens of researchers at Mayo Clinic, along with partners in industry, are part of a national push to develop such a test.
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