Detection of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) after resection of stage II colon cancer may identify patients at the highest risk of recurrence and help inform adjuvant treatment decisions. We used massively parallel sequencing-based assays to evaluate the ability of ctDNA to detect minimal residual disease in 1046 plasma samples from a prospective cohort of 230 patients with resected stage II colon cancer. In patients not treated with adjuvant chemotherapy, ctDNA was detected postoperatively in 14 of 178 (7.9%) patients, 11 (79%) of whom had recurred at a median follow-up of 27 months; recurrence occurred in only 16 (9.8 %) of 164 patients with negative ctDNA [hazard ratio (HR), 18; 95% confidence interval (CI), 7.9 to 40; P < 0.001]. In patients treated with chemotherapy, the presence of ctDNA after completion of chemotherapy was also associated with an inferior recurrence-free survival (HR, 11; 95% CI, 1.8 to 68; P = 0.001). ctDNA detection after stage II colon cancer resection provides direct evidence of residual disease and identifies patients at very high risk of recurrence.
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