The Prognostic Importance of ctDNA in Rectal Cancer: A Critical Reappraisal

Edina Dizdarevic*, Torben Frøstrup Hansen, Anders Jakobsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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The treatment of locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) has evolved during the last decades, but recurrence remains a problem. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) may result in an individualized treatment approach with improved survival and quality of life, but diverging results impede further development. In this systematic review, we addressed the quality of reporting and its impact on the interpretation of ctDNA results. We performed a systematic literature search using subject headings and search terms related to ctDNA and rectal cancer. The Quality of Prognostic Studies (QUIPS) tool was used to assess bias. Nine studies, with substantial heterogeneity, were included in the analysis. Three out of nine articles had moderate or high risk of bias. No association was found between treatment response and ctDNA status at baseline. There was a negative association between ctDNA positivity at baseline, before and after surgery and survival. The ctDNA status may be of importance to the long-term prognosis, but the area of research is new and is short of dedicated studies. There is an obvious need for standardization in ctDNA research, and the issue should be addressed in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2252
Issue number9
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1. May 2022

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • biomarkers
  • colorectal cancer
  • ctDNA
  • liquid biopsy
  • rectal cancer


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