The clinical applications of a multigene liquid biopsy (NETest) in neuroendocrine tumors

Adv Med Sci. 2020 Mar;65(1):18-29. doi: 10.1016/j.advms.2019.10.002. Epub 2019 Dec 13.


Purpose: There are few effective biomarkers for neuroendocrine tumors. Precision oncology strategies have provided liquid biopsies for real-time and tailored decision-making. This has led to the development of the first neuroendocrine tumor liquid biopsy (the NETest). The NETest represents a transcriptomic signature of neuroendocrine tumor (NETs) that captures tumor biology and disease activity. The data have direct clinical application in terms of identifying residual disease, disease progress and the efficacy of treatment. In this overview we assess the available published information on the metrics and clinical efficacy of the NETest.

Material and methods: Published data on the NETest have been collated and analyzed to understand the clinical application of this multianalyte biomarker in NETs.

Results: NETest assay has been validated as a standardized and reproducible clinical laboratory measurement. It is not affected by demographic characteristics, or acid suppressive medication. Clinical utility of the NETest has been documented in gastroenteropancreatic, bronchopulmonary NETs, in paragangliomas and pheochromocytomas. The test facilitates accurate diagnosis of a NET disease, and real-time monitoring of the disease status (stable/progressive disease). It predicts aggressive tumor behavior, identifies operative tumor resection, and efficacy of the medical treatment (e.g. somatostatin analogues), or peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). NETest metrics and clinical applications out-perform standard biomarkers like chromogranin A.

Conclusions: The NETest exhibits clinically competent metrics as an effective biomarker for neuroendocrine tumors. Measurement of NET transcripts in blood is a significant advance in neuroendocrine tumor management and demonstrates that blood provides a viable source to identify and monitor tumor status.

Keywords: Carcinoid; CgA; Liquid biopsy; NETest; Neuroendocrine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Liquid Biopsy / methods*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / diagnosis*
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / genetics
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor