Michael J. Overman, MD, discusses potential applications for circulating tumor DNA in colorectal cancer.
Michael J. Overman, MD, professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology of the Division of Cancer Medicine and committee vice chair at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses potential applications for circulating tumor (ct)DNA in colorectal cancer.
ctDNA is an exciting approach for which several potential and promising applications may exist. For example, this approach could potentially be utilized in the resistance space, specifically with regard to resistance mechanisms, says Overman. Examining the blood can provide information regarding the totality of the lesions or cancer spots; this offers a good assessment of various resistance mechanisms, notes Overman.
Another potential application is with regard to minimal residual disease; this could be used to help detect cancer at a very low level and potentially engage upon it to guide treatment, says Overman. Another area of exploration is determining whether ctDNA could be used as an early marker for disease responsiveness to determine whether a treatment is working or not, adds Overman. Notably, ctDNA allows for the identification of quick changes because it’s cleared rapidly; it’s quantitative and it reflects many important aspects of cancer.
Responses are commonly evaluated with the use of tumor markers or scans; ctDNA could potentially offer a better surrogate for tumor response than a CT scan or other common tumor markers, says Overman. Research efforts are dedicated to determining whether ctDNA could become a standard part of assessment in terms of disease responsiveness, concludes Overman.