Despite the identification of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and cell-free DNA (cfDNA) as potential blood-based biomarkers capable of providing prognostic and predictive information in cancer, they have not been incorporated into routine clinical practice. This resistance is due in part to technological limitations hampering CTC and cfDNA analysis, as well as a limited understanding of precisely how to interpret emergent biomarkers across various disease stages and tumor types. In recognition of these challenges, a group of researchers and clinicians focused on blood-based biomarker development met at the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) Spring Meeting in Toronto, Canada on 29 April 2016 for a workshop discussing novel CTC/cfDNA technologies, interpretation of data obtained from CTCs versus cfDNA, challenges regarding disease evolution and heterogeneity, and logistical considerations for incorporation of CTCs/cfDNA into clinical trials, and ultimately into routine clinical use. The objectives of this workshop included discussion of the current barriers to clinical implementation and recent progress made in the field, as well as fueling meaningful collaborations and partnerships between researchers and clinicians. We anticipate that the considerations highlighted at this workshop will lead to advances in both basic and translational research and will ultimately impact patient management strategies and patient outcomes.
Keywords: cell-free DNA (cfDNA); circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA); circulating tumor cells (CTC); clinical trials; conference report; oncology.