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New technologies are making it possible to detect cancer earlier than ever — but the field is still fiercely divided on whether these liquid biopsy tests are yet ready for prime time.

Those tensions are tangible among experts who continue to spar over the question of whether the cancer screening technology is actually beneficial. Among the most contentious points of debate: Do studies of liquid biopsies need to prove they can reduce mortality rates?


“You can’t make an asymptomatic person feel better,” said Rita Redberg, cardiologist and medicine professor at the University of California, San Francisco. “So then you should show that your test is going to help them to live longer.”

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