ARTICLE ABSTRACTThe routine use of liquid biopsy is not recommended for the choice of initial treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).
We included patients with left-sided, RAS/BRAF wild-type, HER2-negative, and microsatellite stable mCRC, treated with upfront panitumumab/FOLFOX-4 in the Valentino study. We performed amplicon‐based genomic profiling of 14 genes in baseline plasma samples and compared these data with tumor tissue ultra-deep sequencing results. Specific gene mutations in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and their clonality were associated with progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and radiological dynamics.
Ten and 15 of 120 patients had a mutation of RAS and PIK3CA in ctDNA, with a positive concordance with tissue deep sequencing of only 31.3% and 47.1%, respectively. Presence of RAS or PIK3CA mutations in baseline ctDNA was associated with worse median PFS [8 vs. 12.8 months; HR, 2.49; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.28–4.81; P = 0.007 and 8.5 vs. 12.9 months; HR, 2.86; 95% CI, 1.63–5.04; P < 0.001] and median OS (17.1 vs. 36.5 months; HR, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.03–4.96; P = 0.042 and 21.1 vs. 38.9 months; HR, 2.18; 95% CI, 1.16–4.07; P = 0.015). RAS mutations in ctDNA were associated with worse RECIST response, early tumor shrinkage, and depth of response, while PIK3CA mutations were not. Patients with higher levels of RAS/PIK3CA variant allele fraction (VAF) in ctDNA had the worst outcomes (VAF ≥ 5% vs. all wild-type: median PFS, 7.7 vs. 13.1 months; HR, 4.02; 95% CI, 2.03–7.95; P < 0.001 and median OS, 18.8 vs. 38.9 months; HR, 4.07; 95% CI, 2.04–8.12; P < 0.001).
Baseline ctDNA profiling may add value to tumor tissue testing to refine the molecular hyperselection of patients with mCRC for upfront anti-EGFR–based strategies.