The concept of liquid biopsy as an analysis tool for non-solid tissue carried out for the purpose of providing information about solid tumors was introduced approximately 20 years ago. Additional to the detection of circulating tumor cells (CTCs), the liquid biopsy approach quickly included the analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and other tumor-derived markers such as circulating cell-free RNA or extracellular vesicles. Liquid biopsy is a non-invasive technique for detecting multiple cancer-associated biomarkers that is easy to obtain and can reflect the characteristics of the entire tumor mass. Currently, ctDNA is the key component of the liquid biopsy approach from the point of view of the prognosis assessment, prediction, and monitoring of the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. ctDNA in NSCLC patients carries variants or rearrangements that drive carcinogenesis, such as those in EGFR, KRAS, ALK, or ROS1. Due to advances in pharmacology, these variants are the subject of targeted therapy. Therefore, the detection of these variants has gained attention in clinical medicine. Recently, methods based on qPCR (ddPCR, BEAMing) and next-generation sequencing (NGS) are the most effective approaches for ctDNA analysis. This review addresses various aspects of the use of liquid biopsy with an emphasis on ctDNA as a biomarker in NSCLC patients.
Keywords: ALK; CTC; EGFR; KRAS; NSCLC; ctDNA; liquid biopsy; lung cancer.