A simple blood test could help guide the treatment of children with the cancer rhabdomyosarcoma, a new study reports.

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Researchers found that "liquid biopsy" blood tests could pick up signs that a cancer had returned, assess the severity of the disease, and help guide choice of drugs.

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About three-quarters of the children assessed with blood tests before treatment showed key genetic changes in their cancers—some of which could have implications for the children's treatment.

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The promising findings are part of an international collaborative pilot study which is already being taken forward into a large international clinical trial.

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Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects children. Less than a third of these children who relapse or whose cancer has spread will survive.

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The study, led by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, involved blood and tissue samples from 28 patients with rhabdomyosarcoma

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from different centers across Europe, as well as studies in mice.

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Before analyzing patient samples, researchers first assessed liquid biopsies in mice in the lab.

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They were able to successfully detect and monitor tumor growth by measuring circulating tumor DNA in mice with rhabdomyosarcoma

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