Cell-free DNA detected by "liquid biopsy" as a potential prognostic biomarker in early breast cancer

Roberta Maltoni, Valentina Casadio, Sara Ravaioli, Flavia Foca, Maria Maddalena Tumedei, Samanta Salvi, Filippo Martignano, Daniele Calistri, Andrea Rocca, Alessio Schirone, Dino Amadori, Sara Bravaccini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As conventional biomarkers for defining breast cancer (BC) subtypes are not always capable of predicting prognosis, search for new biomarkers which can be easily detected by liquid biopsy is ongoing. It has long been known that cell-free DNA (CF-DNA) could be a promising diagnostic and prognostic marker in different tumor types, although its prognostic value in BC is yet to be confirmed. This retrospective study evaluated the prognostic role of CF-DNA quantity and integrity of HER2, MYC, BCAS1 and PI3KCA, which are frequently altered in BC. We collected 79 serum samples before surgery from women at first diagnosis of BC at Forlì Hospital (Italy) from 2002 to 2010. Twenty-one relapsed and 58 non-relapsed patients were matched by subtype and age. Blood samples were also collected from 10 healthy donors. All samples were analyzed by Real Time PCR for CF-DNA quantity and integrity of all oncogenes. Except for MYC, BC patients showed significantly higher median values of CF-DNA quantity (ng) than healthy controls, who had higher integrity and lower apoptotic index. A difference nearing statistical significance was observed for HER2 short CF-DNA (p = 0.078, AUC value: 0.6305). HER2 short CF-DNA showed an odds ratio of 1.39 for disease recurrence with p = 0.056 (95% CI 0.991-1.973). Our study suggests that CF-DNA detected as liquid biopsy could have great potential in clinical practice once demonstration of its clinical validity and utility has been provided by prospective studies with robust assays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16642-16649
Number of pages8
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Breast cancer subtypes
  • CF-DNA
  • HER2
  • PI3KCA
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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