Genetics Unzipped: In the blood: using circulating DNA to detect and monitor cancer

“The notion that you can use blood tests that look at circulating DNA to understand whether people do or don’t have cancer and how they’re likely to do will totally transform cancer care. I’m quite confident of that”

Sir Harpal Kumar, President of GRAIL Europe

In the latest episode of the Genetics Unzipped podcast, we’re taking a closer look at the red stuff, finding out what a few millilitres of blood can reveal about the development, progression and treatment of cancer within the body. Rather than painful surgical biopsies, expensive scans or complicated screening tests, what if we could simply take a small tube of blood and discover a wealth of information, such as whether or not you have cancer in your body, where it started, how to treat it, and whether that treatment is actually working?

Presenter Dr Kat Arney finds out what circulating tumour DNA is from Dr Susan Galbraith, how it can be used to monitor the progression of a cancer from Professor Charles Swanton, and what this will mean for future cancer patients from Sir Harpal Kumar.

Genetics Unzipped is the podcast from The Genetics Society. Full transcript, links and references available online at

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