The Future of Cancer Detection

John SamuelsAdvisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

More than 1.9 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2023, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s a scary number, but there’s good news, too: New tests are making it easier for doctors to detect cancer and provide targeted treatments. Elizabeth “Betsy” O’Donnell, MD, director of early detection and prevention of malignant conditions at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, recently spoke with me about some of these advances. Dr. O’Donnell has been an oncologist for over a decade, and several years ago, while working at Massachusetts General Hospital, she attended the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO’s) annual meeting and saw a presentation about GRAIL’s blood-based cancer detection. She was inspired to build a program to study this type of screening and offer patients this evolving science. In this interview, Dr. O’Donnell shared updates on the state of cancer detection and treatment and discussed how healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent cancer.

Is blood-based testing the future of early cancer detection?

I think it may be. In terms of patient satisfaction and ease of obtaining, it's certainly the most promising. There are many companies focused on liquid biopsy – liquid being blood-based – but there are breath tests and other types that are also being examined. I like blood-based, because when people have annual physicals, they are already having their blood drawn for other reasons.