Prostate Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Circulating Tumor DNA in Localized and Advanced Prostate Cancers

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2019

Because many prostate cancer diagnoses are indolent upon detection, a new study published in JCO Precision Oncology suggests there is a need for better detection of significant disease prior to treatment. Adam G. Sowalsky, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues suggest that circulating tumor DNA may help detect more aggressive disease in patients with prostate cancer. The study authors found that there appear to be differences in the dissemination and detectability of circulating tumor DNA between patients with localized and advanced diseases. 

“Circulating tumor cells, circulating cell-free microRNA, circular RNA, post-transcriptionally modified RNA species, and genome-wide tissue-of-origin patterns of DNA methylation do not correlate 1:1 with tumor cell number and thus may give a much greater signal than allele-dependent assays for the early, noninvasive detection of aggressive and potentially recurrent prostate cancer,” the authors concluded.

The authors profiled cell-free DNA in 112 patients with localized prostate cancer using ultralow-pass whole-genome sequencing. In nine cases, the authors performed targeted resequencing. 

Similar analyses were performed on patients with metastatic prostate cancer.

Among all patients with localized prostate cancer, neither test—ultralow-pass whole-genome sequencing or target resequencing—detected circulating tumor DNA in plasma prior to surgery or disease recurrence. On the other hand, both approaches detected circulating tumor DNA in patients with metastatic prostate cancer. In the future, these analyses may prove to better identify more aggressive disease, possibly preventing unnecessary treatment.

Disclosure: Visit for full disclosures of the study authors.

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