Prognostic Value of Serum NPY Hypermethylation in Neoadjuvant Chemoradiotherapy for Rectal Cancer: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Trial

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Long-term prevention of metastatic disease remains a challenge in locally advanced rectal cancer, and robust pretreatment prognostic factors for metastatic progression are lacking. We hypothesized that detecting circulating tumor-specific DNA (ctDNA) based on hypermethylation of the neuropeptide Y gene (meth-ctDNA) could be a prognostic marker in the neoadjuvant setting; we examined this in a secondary, explorative analysis of a prospective trial. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Serum samples were prospectively collected in a phase III trial for locally advanced rectal cancer. Positivity for and fractional abundance of meth-ctDNA in baseline samples were estimated. Overall survival (OS) and the rate of distant metastases were compared between meth-ctDNA positive and negative patients; other prognostic factors were controlled for in multivariate Cox regression. Importance of quantitative load was examined by considering the fractional abundance of meth-ctDNA relative to total circulating DNA. RESULTS: Baseline serum samples were available for 146 patients. In total, 30 patients had presence of meth-ctDNA, with no correlation with cT (P=0.8) or cN (P=0.6) stages. Median follow-up was 10.6 years for OS and 5.1 years for freedom from distant metastases. Patients with meth-ctDNA had significantly worse 5-year OS (47% vs. 69%), even when controlling for other prognostic factors (hazard ratio=2.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.23-1.51). This seemed mainly driven by disparity in the rate of distant metastases (55% vs. 72% at 5 y, P=0.01); hazard ratio=2.20 (95% confidence interval, 1.19-4.07, P=0.01) in multivariate analysis. Increased quantitative load was highly significant for worse outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: Meth-ctDNA could be a potential prognostic marker in the neoadjuvant setting and may, if validated, identify patients at increased risk of distant metastases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology
Volume43
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)9-13
ISSN0277-3732
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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