Treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is focused on prolonging survival and maintaining quality of life. It is important to establish prognostic and predictive markers to avoid extended, ineffective treatment. The aim of the present study was, by a novel approach, to analyze the association between cell-free (cf)DNA levels and outcome in patients receiving systemic therapy for incurable mCRC. The study was a prospective non-interventional biomarker study for patients receiving standard of systemic treatment for mCRC. Patients with mCRC, who, according to standard guidelines, were considered for treatment with EGFR inhibitors, were included. The cfDNA levels in consecutive plasma samples were measured by a direct fluorescence assay. The study included 47 patients. Blood samples were available at baseline (n=47); prior to the third treatment cycle (n=31); the first (n=33), second (n=22) and third response evaluation during treatment (n=17); and at progression (n=22). The disease control rate was 42 and 91% in patients with high (≥75th percentile of baseline cfDNA levels) and low cfDNA levels (<75th percentile of baseline cfDNA levels), respectively (P<0.001). Median progression-free survival (PFS) was 3.8 and 8.5 months in patients with high and low cfDNA levels, respectively (hazard ratio=3.03, 95% CI 1.46-6.29, P<0.01). Median overall survival (OS) was 5.0 and 26.6 months in patients with high and low cfDNA levels, respectively (hazard ratio=3.48, 95% CI 1.44-8.44, P<0.01). In the multivariate analysis, baseline cfDNA levels remained a significant predictor of PFS and OS. In conclusion, cfDNA is a promising prognostic tool in the personalized treatment of mCRC. cfDNA levels were estimated by a simple, rapid and inexpensive method (OPTIPAL II: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier no. NCT03750175; registered November 21, 2018).
Keywords: biomarker; cell-free DNA; colorectal adenocarcinoma; metastatic colorectal cancer; systemic therapy.
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