ARTICLE ABSTRACTCirculating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has emerged as a promising tumor-specific biomarker in pancreatic cancer, but current evidence of the clinical potential of ctDNA is limited. In this study, we used comprehensive detection methodology to explore the utility of longitudinal ctDNA measurements in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.
A targeted eight-gene next-generation sequencing panel was used to detect point mutations and copy-number aberrations (CNA) in ctDNA from 324 pre-treatment and longitudinal plasma samples obtained from 56 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. The benefit of ctDNA measurements to predict clinical outcome and track disease progression was assessed.
We detected ctDNA in 35/56 (63%) patients at baseline and found that it was an independent predictor of shorter progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). After initiation of treatment, ctDNA levels decreased significantly before significantly increasing by the time of progression. In some patients, ctDNA persistence was observed after the first chemotherapy cycles, and it was associated with rapid disease progression and shorter OS. Longitudinal monitoring of ctDNA levels in 27 patients for whom multiple samples were available detected progression in 19 (70%) patients. The median lead time of ctDNA measurements on radiologically determined progression/time of death was 19 days (P = 0.002), compared with 6 days (P = 0.007) using carbohydrate antigen 19–9.
ctDNA is an independent prognostic marker that can be used to detect treatment failure and disease progression in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.