Importance: Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for fetal aneuploidy by scanning cell-free fetal DNA in maternal plasma is rapidly becoming a major prenatal genetic test. Similar to placental DNA, tumor DNA can be detected in the plasma, and analysis of cell-free tumor DNA can be used to characterize and monitor cancers. We show that plasma DNA profiling allows for presymptomatic detection of tumors in pregnant women undergoing routine NIPT.
Observations: During NIPT in over 4000 prospective pregnancies by parallel sequencing of maternal plasma cell-free DNA, 3 aberrant genome representation (GR) profiles were observed that could not be attributed to the maternal or fetal genomic constitution. A maternal cancer was suspected, and those 3 patients were referred for whole-body diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging, which uncovered an ovarian carcinoma, a follicular lymphoma, and a Hodgkin lymphoma, each confirmed by subsequent pathologic and genetic investigations. The copy number variations in the subsequent tumor biopsies were concordant with the NIPT plasma GR profiles.
Conclusions and relevance: We show that maternal plasma cell-free DNA sequencing for noninvasive prenatal testing also may enable accurate presymptomatic detection of maternal tumors and treatment during pregnancy.