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Volume 545 Issue 7655, 25 May 2017

In this issue, Charles Swanton and his colleagues suggest that ‘liquid biopsies’ could be used for the early detection of a relapse after surgery for non-small-cell lung cancer. The researchers assessed the evolutionary dynamics of tumours surgically removed from participants in the TRACERx lung-cancer clinical study. They created phylogenetic trees to show how an individual’s tumour evolved and used that information as the basis for a blood test to look for circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA). This allowed the team to identify recurrence of the tumour around 70 days before it was identified in a routine clinical setting as well as providing insight into the metastatic branched evolutionary process. The results indicate how liquid biopsies might be applied in personalized medicine to improve cancer monitoring. Cover image: Jeroen Claus and Giovanni Panico/Phospho Biomedical Animation.

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