Clinical value of ctDNA in upper-GI cancers: A systematic review and meta-analysis

A. Creemers*, S. Krausz, M. Strijker, M. J. van der Wel, E. C. Soer, R. J. Reinten, M. G. Besselink, J. W. Wilmink, M. J. van de Vijver, C. J.M. van Noesel, J. Verheij, S. L. Meijer, F. Dijk, M. F. Bijlsma, M. G.H. van Oijen, H. W.M. van Laarhoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background The recent expanding technical possibilities to detect tumor derived mutations in blood, so-called circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), has rapidly increased the interest in liquid biopsies. This review and meta-analysis explores the clinical value of ctDNA in malignancies of the upper gastro-intestinal tract. Methods PubMed, Cochrane and Embase databases were searched to identify studies reporting the diagnostic, prognostic or predictive value of ctDNA in patients with esophageal, gastric and pancreatic cancer, until January 2017. The diagnostic accuracy and, using random-effect pair-wise meta-analyses, the prognostic value of ctDNA was assessed. Results A total of 34 studies met the inclusion criteria. For esophageal and gastric cancer, amplification of oncogenes in blood, such as HER2 and MYC, can be relevant for diagnostic purposes, and to predict treatment response in certain patient subpopulations. Given the limited number of studies assessing the role of ctDNA in esophageal and gastric cancer, the meta-analysis estimated the diagnostic accuracy and predictive value of ctDNA in pancreatic cancer only (n = 10). The pooled sensitivity and specificity of ctDNA as a diagnostic tool in pancreatic cancer were 28% and 95%, respectively. Patients with pancreatic cancer and detectable ctDNA demonstrated a worse overall survival compared to patients with undetectable ctDNA (HR 1.92, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15–3.22, p = 0.01). Conclusion The presence of ctDNA is significantly associated with a poor prognosis in patients with pancreatic cancer. The use of ctDNA in clinical practice is promising, although standardization of sequencing techniques and further development of high-sensitive detection methods is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-403
Number of pages10
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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