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Table 1 A semi-quantitative comparison of liquid biopsies that have been used for breast cancer biomarker discovery

From: Evaluation of nipple aspirate fluid as a diagnostic tool for early detection of breast cancer

Liquid biopsy Volume Accessibility Discomfort Reference sample* Sample preparation Biomarker concentration Patient led collection Convention
Plasma ++ +++ +++ X ++++ ++ X +++++
Urine +++++ +++++ + X +++ + ++++
Saliva +++ +++++ + X ++ + +++
Ductal lavage + + ++++ + +++++ X +
Random Periareolar Fine Needle Aspiration + + +++++ ++ +++++ X +
Nipple Aspirate Fluid + +++(+) ++ + +++++ ++
+ Small Invasive No discomfort/no distress   Extensive processing required Low   Infrequent use for biomarkers
+++++ Large Easily available Painful/stressful   Limited process required High   Frequent use for biomarkers
  1. (+) Accessibility enhanced by oxytocin nasal spray
  2. *Comparison of healthy and disease sample pairs provides an internal reference