We wanted to learn about new ways of diagnosing and treating cancers that are associated with what in the UK is called ‘personalised medicine’. We followed the work of one scientific team who use samples to develop ‘liquid biopsies’, extracting and tracking circulating tumour DNA. We propose this ‘personalised’ monitoring involves the figuration of disease. Using the terms developed by Erich Auerbach (1938; 1946), we suggest that personalised tracking may establish serial, figure-fulfilment relationships, connecting [with connections between] events and persons. We show how the development of liquid biopsies in oncology involves multiple figures in pictorial, numerical, and conceptual forms. Using serial liquid biopsies, patients can be stratified into sub-groups but also into figures of personalisation.
Personalised medicine; Molecular genetics; Liquid biopsy; Breast cancer; Auerbach
Viney, W. and Day, S. ‘Figuring Molecular Relapse in Breast Cancer Medicine.’ In Figure: Concept and Method, edited by Celia Lury, William Viney, and Scott Wark. PalgraveMacmillan, 2022.