Circulating tumor DNA in lung cancer: real-time monitoring of disease evolution and treatment response

Lung Cancer

Chin Med J (Engl). 2020 Sep 21. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000001097. Online ahead of print.


Lung cancer is one of the leading causes of all cancer-related deaths. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is released from apoptotic and necrotic tumor cells. Several sensitive techniques have been invented and adapted to quantify ctDNA genomic alterations. Applications of ctDNA in lung cancer include early diagnosis and detection, prognosis prediction, detecting mutations and structural alterations, minimal residual disease, and tumor mutational burden, and tumor evolution tracking. Compared to

surgical biopsy and radiographic imaging, the advantages of ctDNA are that it is a non-invasive procedure, allows real-time monitoring, and has relatively high sensitivity and specificity. Given the massive research on non-small cell lung cancer, attention should be paid to small cell lung cancer.