Emerging Trends in Cancer Diagnostics: From Screening to Personalized Medicine

Published: March 2024


Cancer has been considered a major cause of death at the global level. According to the report of the National Institutes of Health, in 2022, 1,918,030 new cases of cancer were diagnosed, and 609,360 deaths occurred due to cancer in the United States, alone. Lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, rectum cancer, and colon cancer are some of the major forms of cancer that affect people, worldwide. The cancer treatment works effectively if the patient has been diagnosed at an early stage.

In the era of oncology precision medicine and target-specific treatment, the cancer diagnostics field comes up with unprecedented opportunities that enable oncologists to treat patients with a specific approach. To combat the rising cases of cancer, several targeted specific therapies have been developed by pharmaceutical companies using advanced approaches. High-value diagnostic tests, genome profiling, and molecular targeted therapies help in early screening within real-time to provide appropriate treatment. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies are currently focusing their efforts on the development of non-invasive diagnostic procedures, such as liquid biopsy, that can help patients with early diagnosis without difficulties. The emerging trend of innovative cancer diagnostic procedures and the incorporation of artificial intelligence together empowered cancer diagnostics in the future.

Cancer Diagnostics: A Brief Overview

Cancer diagnostics or screening test refers to the form of medical tests performed to detect precancerous conditions among asymptomatic individuals who are at greater risk of cancer. The diagnosis of cancer includes core elements, namely:

  • The screening technologies
  • Systematic application of cancer diagnostic tools
  • Evaluation of the tests
  • Vital test for the treatment of suspicious findings.

Traditionally, cancer diagnosis has been done through tissue biopsies, endoscopic examination, genetic mutation testing, magnetic resonance imaging, and laboratory testing procedures. These cancer diagnosing systems are invasive and require tissue extraction multiple times, which can cause problems for the patients.

Requirement of Early Cancer Diagnosis

Early cancer diagnosis is required to improve the survival chances and minimize chances of invasive surgical procedures to treat patients. Moreover, early detection of cancer enables doctors to tailor the treatment plan according to the condition of the patient so they can live a quality life. The early detection of the cancer helps to slow down the progress of the cancer and reduces lethality rate.

Top Emerging Trends in the Cancer Diagnostic Market

Over the past few decades, companies in the cancer diagnostic market have been looking into non-invasive screening procedures to prevent patients from undergoing painful procedures. Presently, the emergence of cancer diagnostic technologies is centralized on precision oncology. The minimal invasive diagnostic approach helps in early detection and improved patient outcomes. Some of the recent trends that the leading cancer diagnostic market players have followed include:

  • Liquid Biopsies (Simple Approach to Diagnose Cancer)

Recently, liquid biopsies have taken the center stage in the cancer diagnostic market. The test involves analysis through body fluids or blood for cancer-related biomarkers such as circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA. This is a minimally invasive procedure and gives access to real-time information about the stage of cancer, enabling physicians to monitor treatment progress with efficacy.

Liquid biopsy test is also helpful in overcoming the problem of heterogeneity of tumors, and in the future, it may replace tissue biopsy, offering better diagnosing and treatment facilities. Physicians may select the best course of treatment for a patient at the right moment with the use of a liquid biopsy diagnostic that can identify epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutations, which affect 10-35 percent of patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC).

Although breast, pulmonary, and prostate cancers have accounted for a large portion of the initial studies on liquid biopsies, it is anticipated that this technique will influence all forms of cancer. Furthermore, liquid biopsies have the potential to revolutionize the treatment of cancer with precise diagnosis. It is worth mentioning here that the leading cancer diagnostic market players have either inked an agreement or enrolled in partnerships to accelerate the demand for liquid biopsies.

In June 2023, Foundation Medicine inked an agreement with Merck kGaA for the development of liquid biopsy companion diagnostic tests for specific cancer. Likewise, several deals have been signed between emerging players in the cancer diagnostic market to support the growth and development of non-invasive procedures.

  • Molecular Imaging Technique (Non-Invasive Approach)

Cancer patients have to undergo multiple diagnostic tests during their treatment, which can be painful and unbearable. The consistent needling and tissue biopsies cause trouble to the patient. Therefore, the current cancer diagnostic market started leveraging molecular imaging techniques for the diagnosis of cancer. Molecular imaging technology is a non-invasive, painless, and safe alternative to the traditional tissue biopsies procedure for the diagnosing of cancer. The methodology allows early detection that helps to prevent serious consequences of the cancer if not diagnosed at an early stage.

This new molecular imaging technology provides multiplexing flexibility with machine learning. It allows researchers to detect cancer sites without invasion quickly. Cutting-edge imaging technology enhances the accuracy rate in cancer diagnosis, and molecular imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography can help to reveal the molecular changes in the cancer cells, enabling accurate assessment of cancer. Driven by the above significance, the cancer diagnostic market is anticipated to grow in the future.

  • Genomic Profiling

Personalized medicine is the next-generation approach to the diagnosis of cancer. The process involves genomic profiling, which involves sequencing the patient's DNA for the identification of the genetic mutation that causes the mutation. It can be achieved through the genome sequencing method. The information collected with genomic profiling helps in the treatment of cancer using specific targeted therapies and helps patients live a quality life. In addition to cancer diagnostics, genomic profiling is also helpful to tailor the plan of the treatment according to the patient's requirements.

  • Artificial Intelligence Cancer Diagnostics

Artificial intelligence will be a potential tool for cancer diagnosing in real time. These AI-driven tools include biosensors that are useful to collect information about health parameters in real time with higher precision. The accurate information collected by using AI algorithm based tools can be used to provide a personalized treatment for the patients with an aim of preventing malignancies.

For instance, various artificial intelligence based tools are very useful in the detection of precancerous lesions. The early detection is very important for the identification of cancer stage and deciding the treatment plan for the patient so they can live a quality life. Furthermore, AI-driven software also helps to reduce time requirement for the diagnosing of cancer and decision making process. Driven by its significance in early detection, several cancer diagnostic market players are increasing their research to develop advanced technologies to facilitate cancer diagnosing and treatment becoming more feasible.

Personalized Medicine Role in Cancer Diagnostics

Personalized medicine in cancer diagnostics emerges as a sophisticated approach to tumor detection, prevention, and treatment. The approach considers the genetic variations both within and across tumors, the immunological environment around the tumor, the patient's lifestyle, and any associated morbidities for each cancer patient.

Personalized medicine can modify the tumor's immune environment and target treatment toward the oncogenic drivers of the tumor. Moreover, personalized medicine considers the toxicities brought on by therapy in order to maximize tumor response for each patient. Personalized medicine is also helpful to avoid unnecessary side effects and enhance the effectiveness of the targeted therapies. For instance, a patient with breast cancer that occurs due to genetic mutations will respond quickly to the targeted therapies instead of the conventional chemotherapeutic approach.

Common Challenges and Regulatory Considerations in Cancer Diagnostics

The emerging trends and technologies bring innovation in cancer treatment, however, the cancer diagnostics market often faces several challenges. One of the primary challenges is that advanced methodologies of cancer diagnostics are costly, and it is difficult to access treatment at low cost or without health insurance. Therefore, the high cost associated with the implementation of emerging technologies creates disparities in the diagnostics and treatment of cancer. In addition, some other challenges associated with the cancer diagnostic market include:

  • Cancer diagnostic procedures, in some cases, produce false results, which leads to irrelevant stress, delayed treatment, and invasive procedures. Therefore, cancer diagnostic market players have to improve the specificity of the cancer diagnostic.
  • Analysis and data collection of the patient through a digital approach may raise a concern about the data security and privacy of the patients. Cancer diagnostic market players have to emphasize safeguarding the information of the patient from misuse.
  • Personalized medicine relies on genomic profiling and genetic information. The regulatory considerations have to be followed to ensure responsive use of the patient’s sensitive data.
  • The regulatory guidelines regarding the approval of emerging cancer diagnostics technologies have to be followed. However, the regulatory approval for cancer diagnosis is a complex process and consumes time, resulting in the delay of availability of emerging technologies for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Top Cancer Diagnostics Market Players

Cancer diagnostics and treatment is one of the highly evolving markets, depicting unparalleled research, development, partnerships, and collaborations, to meet the rising demand for innovative approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment. Driven by the rising demand, several cancer diagnostics market players that are actively searching for unique solutions include:

  • Abbott
  • Agendia
  • Agilent Technologies
  • Bio-Rad Laboratories
  • Biodesix
  • CD Genomics
  • FUJIFILM Holdings
  • GE Healthcare
  • F. Hoffmann-La Roche Qiagen
  • Hologic
  • Illumina
  • Koninklijke Philips N
  • Siemens Healthcare GmbH
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific

Recent Activities and Developments in the Cancer Diagnostic Market

Several leading cancer diagnostic market players and researchers are emerging with advanced solutions for precise diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Some of the breakthrough activities and developments that have been taken place in the cancer diagnostic market include:

  • In November 2021, the FDA approved Cytalux (pafolacianine), a target-specific fluorescent imaging agent for the identification and testing of ovarian cancer lesions.
  • In November 2021, Hologic launched a whole new digital diagnostic system, namely Genius™, in Europe, serving as a next-generation cervical cancer screening procedure that combines advanced volumetric imaging technology with artificial intelligence. The system also helps in the identification of precancerous lesions and cervical cancer in women.
  • In August 2021, Pillar Biosciences received premarket approval for oncoReveal™ Dx Lung and Colon Cancer assay, which is an NGS tissue-based companion diagnostic testing procedure for qualitative detection of somatic mutations in DNA derived from colorectal cancer tumor and non-small cell lung cancer.
  • In August 2023, Paige collaborated with Ohio State Wexner Medical Center for the study of artificial intelligence tools for accurate and efficient diagnosis of prostate cancer.
  • In July 2023, PathAI launched AIM-HER2 breast cancer, an artificial intelligence-powered HER2 scoring algorithm for cancer diagnosis and analysis in biopharmaceutical research and laboratories.

Cancer Diagnostics Market: A Shift to Innovative Diagnostics Procedure

In a nutshell, advances in technology will play an essential role in the detection and treatment of patients suffering from cancer. The innovative technologies, including gene amplification, genome profiling, hybridization methods and artificial intelligence, enable early cancer detection. The ongoing trend of implementing technologies to make appropriate actionable diagnosis has brought enormous opportunities for the healthcare experts to decide tailored treatment plans and save patients from severe consequences. Furthermore, the integration of artificial intelligence offers a real time diagnosing approach so pathologists can support doctors for the treatment of cancer patients.

Additionally, the ongoing awareness about the advanced cancer diagnosing technologies and their role in assisting cancer detection, receptive stratification, and treatment give a new ray of hope to the healthcare system. As technology advances and scientists expand their research and development of personalized medicines for cancer diagnostics, the cancer diagnostic market is likely to expand in the future.

Therefore, the future of cancer diagnostics is extremely broad and continues to expand for the development of less-invasive and precise tumor detection methods. Also, breakthroughs in cancer diagnostic areas, such as AI-centric diagnostics, liquid biopsy technologies, and targeted therapies, continue to improve the treatment of cancer and enable patients to live quality lives.

References:

https://clpmag.com/disease-states/cancer/emerging-trends-in-oncology-testing/
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/advanced-diagnostics-for-personalized-medicine/
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/trends-personalized-cancer-diagnostics-highly-sensitive-james-cc-hsu?trk=public_post-content_share-article

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