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Innovative solution to faster diagnosis in pancreatic and biliary tract cancers

Innovative work to enable faster diagnosis of pancreatic and biliary tract cancers using liquid biopsies has been presented at the 2023 AMMF European Cholangiocarcinoma Conference.

Dr Naureen Starling (Consultant Medical Oncologist) presented details of the ACCESS project, which was enabled thanks to a successful NHS England innovation fund grant involving RM Partners and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. The project aims to embed the use of liquid biopsies in the current diagnostic pathway for stage 3 and 4 pancreatic and biliary tract cancer patients.

Liquid biopsies are blood tests that can find and detect abnormalities through identification of cancer cell DNA in the bloodstream. Bringing genomics and workforce education to the forefront, the ACCESS project using the Guardant360® test panel is currently being evaluated at six Trusts across West London to better understand the use and efficiency of these technologies in faster cancer diagnoses. Testing for circulating tumour DNA in the bloodstream has the potential to reduce repeated invasive diagnostic investigations enabling patients to access the appropriate care more quickly.

Evidence suggests that technologies such as liquid biopsies can bring significant benefit for patients and families experiencing pancreatic and biliary tract cancer by offering faster and safer diagnosis, facilitating better patient outcomes and experience, as well as enabling more personalised treatment through streamlining diagnostic and molecular testing.

The ACCESS project hopes to provide a framework supported by essential service evaluation components to better inform the application of liquid biopsies as a diagnostic tool into practice in the future. It also seeks to highlight broader benefits for the NHS such as possibilities for resilient, scalable, streamlined, efficient diagnostic pathways, as well as improved equity and access to care.