Circulating tumor DNA analysis in patients with cancer: American society of clinical oncology and college of American pathologists joint review

Jason D. Merker, Geoffrey R. Oxnard, Carolyn Compton, Maximilian Diehn, Patricia Hurley, Alexander J. Lazar, Neal Lindeman, Christina M. Lockwood, Alex J. Rai, Richard L. Schilsky, Apostolia M. Tsimberidou, Patricia Vasalos, Brooke L. Billman, Thomas K. Oliver, Suanna S. Bruinooge, Daniel F. Hayes, Nicholas C. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Purpose. - Clinical use of analytical tests to assess genomic variants in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is increasing. This joint review from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the College of American Pathologists summarizes current information about clinical ctDNA assays and provides a framework for future research. Methods. - An Expert Panel conducted a literature review on the use of ctDNA assays for solid tumors, including preanalytical variables, analytical validity, interpretation and reporting, and clinical validity and utility. Results. - The literature search identified 1338 references. Of those, 390, plus 31 references supplied by the Expert Panel, were selected for full-text review. There were 77 articles selected for inclusion. Conclusions. - The evidence indicates that testing for ctDNA is optimally performed on plasma collected in cell stabilization or EDTA tubes, with EDTA tubes processed within 6 hours of collection. Some ctDNA assays have demonstrated clinical validity and utility with certain types of advanced cancer; however, there is insufficient evidence of clinical validity and utility for the majority of ctDNA assays in advanced cancer. Evidence shows discordance between the results of ctDNA assays and genotyping tumor specimens, and supports tumor tissue genotyping to confirm undetected results from ctDNA tests. There is no evidence of clinical utility and little evidence of clinical validity of ctDNA assays in early-stage cancer, treatment monitoring, or residual disease detection. There is no evidence of clinical validity or clinical utility to suggest that ctDNA assays are useful for cancer screening, outside of a clinical trial. Given the rapid pace of research, reevaluation of the literature will shortly be required, along with the development of tools and guidance for clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1242-1253
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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