Research ArticleCancer

Circulating tumor DNA analysis detects minimal residual disease and predicts recurrence in patients with stage II colon cancer

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Science Translational Medicine  06 Jul 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 346, pp. 346ra92
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf6219

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Footprints of persistent cancer

Stage II colon cancer, which has spread through the wall of the colon but has not metastasized to the lymph nodes, can present a therapeutic dilemma. On one hand, these tumors can usually be completely removed by surgery, and the majority does not recur even without chemotherapy. On the other hand, it is difficult to determine which of these tumors will recur and to identify patients who would benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy after surgery. Tie et al. show that the presence of circulating tumor DNA in a patient’s blood after surgery is a sign of persistent tumor and a greatly increased risk of relapse, suggesting that this group of patients may require chemotherapy to prevent recurrence.