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Persistence of circulating tumor DNA in breast cancer patients during neoadjuvant treatment is a significant predictor of poor tumor response

Purpose:Accurate assessment of response during neoadjuvant systemic treatment (NST) poses a major clinical challenge. Therefore, a minimally-invasive assessment of tumor response based on cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) may be beneficial to guide treatment decisions.Experimental Design: We profiled 93 genes in tissue from 193 early breast cancer patients. Patient-specific assays were designed to track ctDNA during NST from 145 patients with available plasma. ctDNA presence and levels were correlated with complete pathological response (pCR) and residual cancer burden (RCB) as well as with clinicopathologic characteristics of the tumor to identify potential proxies for ctDNA release. Moreover, we tested the predictive value of driver events identified in the tumor.Results:At baseline, ctDNA could be detected in 63/145 (43.4%) patients and persisted in 25/63 (39.7%) patients at mid-therapy (MT) and 15/63 (23.8%) patients at the end of treatment. ctDNA detection at MT was significantly associated with higher RCB (OR 0.062, 95% CI 0.01-0.48, P=0.0077). Out of 31 patients with detectable ctDNA at MT, 30 patients (96.8%) were non-responders (RCB II, n=8; RCB III, n=22) and only one patient responded to the treatment (RCB I). Considering all 145 patients with baseline (BL) plasma, none of the patients with RCB 0 and only 6.7% of patients with RCB I had ctDNA detectable at MT, while 30.6% and 29.6% of patients with RCB II/III, respectively, had a positive ctDNA result. Conclusion:Overall, our results demonstrate that the detection and persistence of ctDNA at mid-therapy may have the potential to negatively predict response to neoadjuvant treatment and identify patients who will not achieve pCR or be classified with RCB II/III.

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Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001008396 Illumina MiSeq NextSeq 550 187
EGAD00001008397 NextSeq 550 185
Publications Citations
Persistence of ctDNA in Patients with Breast Cancer During Neoadjuvant Treatment Is a Significant Predictor of Poor Tumor Response.
Clin Cancer Res 28: 2022 697-707