Combining Solid and Liquid Biopsy for Therapy Monitoring in Esophageal Cancer

Esophageal cancer (EC) has one of the highest mortality rates among cancers, making it imperative that therapies are optimized and dynamically adapted to individuals. In this regard, liquid biopsy is an increasingly important method for residual disease monitoring. However, conflicting detection rates (14% versus 60%) and varying cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) levels (0.07% versus 0.5%) have been observed in previous studies. Here, we aim to resolve this discrepancy. For 19 EC patients, a complete set of cell-free DNA (cfDNA), formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor tissue (TT) DNA and leukocyte DNA was sequenced (139 libraries). cfDNA was examined in biological duplicates and/or longitudinally, and TT DNA was examined in technical duplicates. In baseline cfDNA, mutations were detected in 12 out of 19 patients (63%); the median ctDNA level was 0.4%. Longitudinal ctDNA changes were consistent with clinical presentation. Considerable mutational diversity was observed in TT, with fewer mutations in cfDNA. The most recurrently mutated genes in TT were TP53, SMAD4, TSHZ3, and SETBP1, with SETBP1 being reported for the first time. ctDNA in blood can be used for therapy monitoring of EC patients. However, a combination of solid and liquid samples should be used to help guide individualized EC therapy.


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