Circulating Tumor DNA in Stage III Colorectal Cancer, beyond Minimal Residual Disease Detection, toward Assessment of Adjuvant Therapy Efficacy and Clinical Behavior of Recurrences

Tenna Vesterman Henriksen, Noelia Tarazona, Amanda Frydendahl, Thomas Reinert, Francisco Gimeno-Valiente, Juan Antonio Carbonell-Asins, Shruti Sharma, Derrick Renner, Dina Hafez, Desamparados Roda, Marisol Huerta, Susana Roselló, Anders Husted Madsen, Uffe S Løve, Per Vadgaard Andersen, Ole Thorlacius-Ussing, Lene Hjerrild Iversen, Kåre Andersson Gotschalck, Himanshu Sethi, Alexey AleshinAndres Cervantes, Claus Lindbjerg Andersen

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Abstract

Purpose: Sensitive methods for risk stratification, monitoring therapeutic efficacy, and early relapse detection may have a major impact on treatment decisions and patient management for stage III colorectal cancer patients. Beyond assessing the predictive power of postoperative ctDNA detection, we explored the added benefits of serial analysis: Assessing adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT) efficacy, early relapse detection, and ctDNA growth rates. Experimental Design: We recruited 168 patients with stage III colorectal cancer treated with curative intent at Danish and Spanish hospitals between 2014 and 2019. To quantify ctDNA in plasma samples (n = 1,204), 16 patient-specific somatic single-nucleotide variants were profiled using multiplex-PCR, next-generation sequencing. Results: Detection of ctDNA was a strong recurrence predictor postoperatively [HR = 7.0; 95% confidence interval (CI), 3.7-13.5; P < 0.001] and directly after ACT (HR = 50.76; 95% CI, 15.4-167; P < 0.001). The recurrence rate of postoperative ctDNA-positive patients treated with ACT was 80% (16/20). Only patients who cleared ctDNA permanently during ACT did not relapse. Serial ctDNA assessment after the end of treatment was similarly predictive of recurrence (HR=50.80; 95% CI, 14.9-172; P < 0.001), and revealed two distinct rates of exponential ctDNA growth, slow (25% ctDNA-increase/month) and fast (143% ctDNA-increase/month; P < 0.001). The ctDNA growth rate was prognostic of survival (HR=2.7; 95%CI, 1.1-6.7; P=0.039). Serial ctDNAanalysis every 3 months detected recurrence with a median lead-time of 9.8 months compared with standard-of-care computed tomography. Conclusions: Serial postoperative ctDNA analysis has a strong prognostic value and enables tumor growth rate assessment. The novel combination of ctDNA detection and growth rate assessment provides unique opportunities for guiding decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Volume28
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)507-517
ISSN1078-0432
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Feb 2022

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