Treatment response assessment for patients with advanced solid tumors is complex and existing methods require greater precision. Current guidelines rely on imaging, which has known limitations, including the time required to show a deterministic change in target lesions. Serial changes in whole-genome (WG) circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) were used to assess response or resistance to treatment early in the treatment course. Ninety-six patients with advanced cancer were prospectively enrolled (91 analyzed and 5 excluded), and blood was collected before and after initiation of a new, systemic treatment. Plasma cell-free DNA libraries were prepared for either WG or WG bisulfite sequencing. Longitudinal changes in the fraction of ctDNA were quantified to retrospectively identify molecular progression (MP) or major molecular response (MMR). Study endpoints were concordance with first follow-up imaging (FFUI) and stratification of progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Patients with MP (n = 13) had significantly shorter PFS (median 62 days vs. 310 days) and OS (255 days vs. not reached). Sensitivity for MP to identify clinical progression was 54% and specificity was 100%. MP calls were from samples taken a median of 28 days into treatment and 39 days before FFUI. Patients with MMR (n = 27) had significantly longer PFS and OS compared with those with neither call (n = 51). These results demonstrated that ctDNA changes early after treatment initiation inform response to treatment and correlate with long-term clinical outcomes. Once validated, molecular response assessment can enable early treatment change minimizing side effects and costs associated with additional cycles of ineffective treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research