Frequently Asked Questions

About Liquid Biopsies

What is a Liquid Biopsy for cancer?

For patients who previously received a cancer diagnosis, liquid biopsy refers to the use of a bio-fluid sample, such as blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or urine to detect and analyze biological markers to evaluate disease and determine cancer treatment options. This contrasts with a tissue biopsy, in which a small portion of a patient’s tumor is removed and analyzed for cancer biomarkers. Liquid biopsy can be used in conjunction with tumor tissue analysis, or as an alternative when a tissue biopsy is insufficient, unavailable, or not feasible. Liquid biopsies are typically conducted with blood as the sample type, and are used to identify cancer biomarkers in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) or on circulating tumor cells (CTCs), which are the most commonly evaluated indicators or drivers of cancer development. Doctors may use liquid biopsies to help design cancer treatment plans, to evaluate how well treatment is working, or to determine if a prior cancer condition has recurred. The ability to take multiple samples of blood may help doctors understand what kind of molecular changes are taking place over time in a patient’s tumor.

What are CTCs?

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are cells that have detached from a primary tumor and circulate in the bloodstream. CTCs may travel to other areas and create new tumors in different tissues or organs (metastases). Elevated CTCs at any time in the course of clinical treatment of metastic breast cancer are indicators of progression.

What is ctDNA?

ctDNA stands for circulating tumor DNA. These fragments of non-cellular mutated DNA can find their way into blood through either apoptosis or necrosis of the solid tumor tissue. ctDNA can also be generated from circulating tumor cells (CTCs) that are released by a tumor into the blood stream, followed by degradation within the blood stream and a release of DNA contents.

Why are CTCs important?

The capture and detection of CTCs may have important prognostic and therapeutic implications because detection of tumor cells may have clinical utility in risk stratification in early cancer, in early detection of relapse, and in monitoring response to treatment. The presence of tumor cells circulating in the blood has been associated with shortened survival from various solid tumor cancers.

What does prognostic versus predictive mean?

A prognostic test may indicate the outcome and course of a disease. A predictive test suggests likely response to a particular therapy. Information about the presence and number of CTCs has prognostic value. Biomarker status results indicate whether a patient is a candidate for tailored drug therapy and are therefore predictive.

What does Biocept’s liquid biopsy test tell me and my doctor? Will it tell me if I have cancer?

Biocept’s testing platform is not designed to screen for cancer. It is intended to provide information to clinicians about the presence of CTCs, ctDNA, and other specific biomarkers, such as proteins and amplifications, from the CTCs. These results assist physicians in understanding the status of the disease and in making decisions on current and future therapy. Treatments for metastatic cancer have advanced over the past years, but diagnostic tools for selecting the appropriate pharmacologic agent have lagged. Liquid biopsy is an advanced tool available now for your physician.

About the Liquid Biopsy Tests

How is the liquid biopsy test administered?

Biocept’s liquid biopsy is performed on a simple blood sample. No complex surgical biopsy for tissue is required. Additionally, there is no radiation exposure like a CT Scan, PET/CT or X-Ray. No fasting is necessary prior to the test. Consult with your doctor on preparation for either procedure if you have questions.

How often do I need liquid biopsy tests?

Liquid biopsy testing can be performed before, during, and after your therapy. You and your doctor should discuss the test, the frequency of the test, and what is appropriate for your unique situation.

What is the turn-around time for my physician to receive results after I get the blood test?

Biocept will provide your physician the results within 3-5 days for CTC detection, and may require 2-5 days more for additional biomarker testing when the sample is received into our laboratory.

Will my insurance cover the costs of the test?

Most health plans cover our testing and it may be determined that the patient may have a balance (co-pay, deductible, or co-insurance) based upon the individual benefit design of the patients policy. In addition, some health plans reimburse the patient directly for the laboratory services when the laboratory is an out-of-network provider. If a patient does receive a payment for the test from the health insurer, or has a co-pay or deductible owed, please forward the payment to:

Biocept, Inc., File 1689, 1801 W. Olympic Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91199-1689

Biocept Financial Assistance Program (BFAP) – is a program designed to aid those patients who have unique financial situations based upon income, expenses or financial hardship. By completing the application process, it is possible to reduce, or eliminate the patient’s financial responsibility. For Physicians and clients, please contact your representative for assistance. For patients, please contact our billing department at 888-492-4723.

If I am having chemo or radiation treatment, when should my blood be drawn for a liquid biopsy test?

We recommend that you and your physician wait two weeks after treatment to draw blood and send to Biocept. Most treatment cycles are 3-4 weeks apart.