Diagnosing and screening for tumors through noninvasive means represent an important paradigm shift in precision medicine. In contrast to tissue biopsy, detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and circulating tumor nucleic acids provides a minimally invasive method for predictive and prognostic marker detection. This allows early and serial assessment of metastatic disease, including follow-up during remission, characterization of treatment effects, and clonal evolution. Isolation and characterization of CTCs and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) are likely to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment, and minimal residual disease monitoring. However, more trials are required to validate the clinical utility of precise molecular markers for a variety of tumor types. This review focuses on the clinical utility of CTCs and ctDNA testing in patients with solid tumors, including somatic and epigenetic alterations that can be detected. A comparison of methods used to isolate and detect CTCs and some of the intricacies of the characterization of the ctDNA are also provided.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Medicine