The utility of ctDNA in detecting minimal residual disease following curative surgery in colorectal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. There remains a need for improved risk stratification following curative resection. Circulating-tumour DNA (ctDNA) has gained particular interest as a cancer biomarker in recent years. We performed a systematic review to assess the utility of ctDNA in identifying minimal residual disease in colorectal cancer.
Studies were included if ctDNA was measured following curative surgery and long-term outcomes were assessed. Studies were excluded if the manuscript could not be obtained from the British Library or were not available in English.
Thirty-seven studies met the inclusion criteria, involving 3002 patients. Hazard ratios (HRs) for progression-free survival (PFS) were available in 21 studies. A meta-analysis using a random effects model demonstrated poorer PFS associated with ctDNA detection at the first liquid biopsy post-surgery [HR: 6.92 CI: 4.49–10.64 p < 0.00001]. This effect was also seen in subgroup analysis by disease extent, adjuvant chemotherapy and assay type.
Here we demonstrate that ctDNA detection post-surgery is associated with a greater propensity to disease relapse and is an independent indicator of poor prognosis. Prior to incorporation into clinical practice, consensus around timing of measurements and assay methodology are critical.