Seeing cancer in a tube of blood: how new genetic sequencing technologies empower doctors to keep one step ahead of the disease

Helmy Eltoukhy


Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.  Considering about half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes, the disease unfortunately is something most Americans have come in contact with, either personally or through a loved one or close friend.  Cancer can grow and mutate rapidly.  However, every cancer patient’s disease is different from a genomic level.  This has led to the personalized treatment movement and has led to patients taking an active role in determining with their physicians the right therapies at the right time. 

For decades, the medical community has been fighting this widespread killer with traditional tissue biopsies. However, patients and their oncologists have a new tool to fight the disease: a non-invasive blood test (called liquid biopsy) that uses cutting-edge cancer genomic technology to provide real-time insights into how the disease is mutating and growing. By educating themselves on the latest tests and technology available today, patients can have their blood examined before, during and after treatment to ensure the chemo and radiation is delivering the right medicine at the right time. This is giving patients a better level of understanding into the disease’s evolution in their own body and an unprecedented opportunity to get the adaptive care they need to effectively fight the disease. In fact, Steve Jobs spent more than $100,000 to determine the DNA sequence of his cancer to better understand how to treat it in the months before his passing, according to his biographer, Walter Isaacson.

Now, patients have a fighting chance against cancers that have long been labeled terminal. In this session, Helmy Eltoukhy, CEO of Guardant Health, will:

  • Explore the liquid biopsy landscape, discussing its current state of use and possible future applications.
  • Provide insights into how patients can take a more active role in monitoring their cancer by understanding the cancer genomic technologies available on the market today.
  • Share his vision for how the ever-evolving medical technology landscape can help democratize healthcare and challenge outdated practices.   
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