Role of Circulating Cell-Free DNA in Cancers

Mol Diagn Ther. 2015 Dec;19(6):339-50. doi: 10.1007/s40291-015-0167-y.


Liquid biopsy is a term used to describe non-invasive tests, which provide information about disease conditions through analysis of circulating cell-free DNA and circulating tumor cells from peripheral blood samples. In patients with cancer, the concentration of cell-free DNA increases, and structural, sequence, and epigenetic changes to DNA can be observed through the disease process and during therapy. Furthermore, cell-free DNA released by the tumor contains the same variants as those in the tumor cells. Therefore, cell-free DNA allows non-invasive assessment of cancer in real time. This review summarizes the origin of cell-free DNA, recent advancements in the detection of cell-free DNA, a possible role in metastasis, and its importance as a non-invasive diagnostic assay for cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / blood*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / blood*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Neoplasm