For cancer management, predicting and monitoring response to treatment and disease progression longitudinally is crucial due to changes in tumor biology and therapy responsiveness over time. However, solid tumors are usually sampled only at time of initial diagnosis, as obtaining tissue biopsies is an invasive procedures with associated risks. Thus, there is a pressing need for approaches able to serially detect function-related reliable biomarkers reflecting treatment response and/or disease progression through easy noninvasive procedures, amenable for longitudinal analysis of tumor molecular features. Recent evidences indicate that blood and other body fluids could replace invasive surgical biopsies and represent a "liquid biopsy" containing cells and nucleic acids released by primary and metastatic lesions, reflecting their biological features and allowing identification of clinically useful biomarkers and treatment-induced cancer adaption processes. The development of new and highly sensitive technologies that allow to detect and characterize circulating tumor cells, to identify cell-free nucleic acids (circulating tumor-associated microRNAs and cancer-specific mutations in circulating DNA) and to measure their eventual dynamic changes represents therefore a major achievement for disease monitoring. However, notwithstanding preliminary findings support the prognostic and/or predictive role of this new generation of biomarkers, there are a number of technical and biological caveats that still require additional studies to demonstrate and validate their clinical utility. A unique opportunity to rapidly assess the contribution of circulating tumor cells and cell-free nucleic acids to patient management and to personalized medicine could derive by their combined consideration in the neoadjuvant setting.
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Journal of the National Cancer Institute - Monographs|
|Publication status||Published - May 1 2015|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research