, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 119-122
Date: 15 Feb 2011

Circulating free DNA: a new surrogate marker for minimal residual disease?

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Introduction

Despite progress made in the oncologic therapy, the prognosis of the patients with breast cancer is still limited by metastatic relapse often many years after primary diagnosis. Of all validated prognostic factors, monitoring of minimal residual disease (MRD) is the only one available after the primary tumor has been removed. Beside detection of circulating or disseminated tumor cells (DTC), there is currently a major effort to identify other biological markers which can be assessed with minimally invasive methods and persist beyond surgery.

The existence of circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is a common and relatively early phenomenon in various cancer types, including breast cancer. This extracellular DNA shows tumor-related abnormalities, e.g., decreased strand stability, point mutations, microsatellite alterations, losses of heterozygosity, and aberrant promoter hypermethylation of tumor suppressor genes [1]. Of these, changes in DNA methylation represent one of the most ...

This is an invited commentary to article doi: 10.1007/s10549-010-1335-8.