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CancerLocator: Non-Invasive Cancer Diagnosis and Tissue-of-Origin Prediction Using Methylation Profiles of Cell-Free DNA

Background: The detection and characterization of cell-free DNA in plasma is one of the most promising new areas in cancer diagnosis. Liquid biopsy, unlike traditional tissue biopsy, has the potential to diagnose a variety of different malignancies. Results: Here we propose a probabilistic method, CancerLocator, which exploits the diagnostic potential of cell-free DNA by determining not only the presence but also the location of tumors. CancerLocator simultaneously infers the proportions and the tissue-of-origin of tumor-derived cell-free DNA in a blood sample using genome-wide DNA methylation data. We comprehensively evaluate CancerLocator with simulations and real data, and compare its performance with that of two established multi-class classification methods. We show that the predicted tumor burdens are highly consistent with the true values. In addition, when the proportion of tumor-derived DNAs in the cell-free DNAs is low, the two popular machine learning methods completely fail for cancer diagnosis, while CancerLocator successfully overcomes the challenge. CancerLocator also achieves promising results on patient plasma samples, despite the fact that the DNA methylation data from these samples has very low sequencing coverage. Conclusions: CfDNA methylation may be developed as an important approach for non-invasive early cancer diagnosis.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001003168 HiSeq X Ten 9
Publications Citations
CancerLocator: non-invasive cancer diagnosis and tissue-of-origin prediction using methylation profiles of cell-free DNA.
Genome Biol 18: 2017 53