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Two years ago, the Food and Drug Administration marked a big step forward in the way doctors think about cancer: It approved Merck’s Keytruda to treat tumors that appear anywhere in the body, but are marked with a specific genetic signature.

But identifying such cancers, called MSI-High, for “microsatellite instability-high,” required a biopsy of a tumor that had been surgically removed. In a paper published Monday, Guardant Health, a biotechnology company, published results saying it can tell whether a patient’s cancer is MSI-High with a type of blood test, also known as a liquid biopsy.

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