Deep sequencing of circulating tumor DNA detects molecular residual disease and predicts recurrence in gastric cancer

Cell Death Dis. 2020 May 11;11(5):346. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-2531-z.


Identifying locoregional gastric cancer patients who are at high risk for relapse after resection could facilitate early intervention. By detecting molecular residual disease (MRD), circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has been shown to predict post-operative relapse in several cancers. Here, we aim to evaluate MRD detection by ctDNA and its association with clinical outcome in resected gastric cancer. This prospective cohort study enrolled 46 patients with stage I-III gastric cancer that underwent resection with curative intent. Sixty resected tumor samples and 296 plasma samples were obtained for targeted deep sequencing and longitudinal ctDNA profiling. ctDNA detection was correlated with clinicopathologic features and post-operative disease-free (DFS) and overall survival (OS). ctDNA was detected in 45% of treatment-naïve plasma samples. Primary tumor extent (T stage) was independently associated with pre-operative ctDNA positivity (p = 0.006). All patients with detectable ctDNA in the immediate post-operative period eventually experienced recurrence. ctDNA positivity at any time during longitudinal post-operative follow-up was associated with worse DFS and OS (HR = 14.78, 95%CI, 7.991-61.29, p < 0.0001 and HR = 7.664, 95% CI, 2.916-21.06, p = 0.002, respectively), and preceded radiographic recurrence by a median of 6 months. In locoregional gastric cancer patients treated with curative intent, these results indicate that ctDNA-detected MRD identifies patients at high risk for recurrence and can facilitate novel treatment intensification studies in the adjuvant setting to improve survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Circulating Tumor DNA / blood
  • Circulating Tumor DNA / genetics*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Gastrectomy
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Neoplasm, Residual
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stomach Neoplasms / blood
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / surgery
  • Time Factors


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Circulating Tumor DNA