WVXU: Does your spinal fluid show if you have a tumor?

UC researchers are studying whether they can detect brain cancer in spinal fluid

University of Cincinnati researchers are starting a clinical trial to determine if they can detect brain cancer in spinal fluid. This kind of a test, called a "liquid biopsy," appears to be more accurate than MRIs which sometimes prompt unnecessary surgery.

Matthew Garrett, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery, UC Health neurosurgeon and a member of the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, says glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, always grows back. So instead of subjecting patients to repeated surgeries to confirm additional growths, he wondered if just checking spinal fluid would work. A clinical trial will validate this theory.

Trisha WIse-Draper, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology Oncology at the UC College of Medicine, is a UC Health oncologist and member of the UC Cancer Center who runs UC's clinical trials. She says this concept can be applied to other tumors.

"One of the things that is really difficult for us is repeat biopsies or repeat surgeries," she says. "They are really hard on patients. So if we can take a simple blood test and be able to know if the tumor is back or not and if we need to change our treatment strategy to do something more aggressive, it would be ideal." 

Listen to the full WVXU report.

Read the UC News story.

Featured photo of spine sketch courtesy of Unsplash. 

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