Monitoring Treatment Response, Early Recurrence, and Survival in Uterine Serous Carcinoma and Carcinosarcoma Patients Using Personalized Circulating Tumor DNA Biomarkers

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 May 17;24(10):8873. doi: 10.3390/ijms24108873.


Uterine serous carcinoma (USC) and carcinosarcomas (CSs) are rare, highly aggressive variants of endometrial cancer. No reliable tumor biomarkers are currently available to guide response to treatment or detection of early recurrence in USC/CS patients. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) identified using ultrasensitive technology such as droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) may represent a novel platform for the identification of occult disease. We explored the use of personalized ctDNA markers for monitoring USC and CS patients. Tumor and plasma samples from USC/CS patients were collected at the time of surgery and/or during the treatment course for assessment of tumor-specific somatic structural variants (SSVs) by a clinical-grade next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform (i.e., Foundation Medicine) and a droplet digital PCR instrument (Raindance, ddPCR). The level of ctDNA was quantified by droplet digital PCR in plasma samples and correlated to clinical findings, including CA-125 serum and/or computed tomography (CT) scanning results. The genomic-profiling-based assay identified mutated "driver" target genes for ctDNA analysis in all USC/CS patients. In multiple patients, longitudinal ctDNA testing was able to detect the presence of cancer cells before the recurrent tumor was clinically detectable by either CA-125 or CT scanning. Persistent undetectable levels of ctDNA following initial treatment were associated with prolonged progression-free and overall survival. In a USC patient, CA-125 and TP53 mutations but not PIK3CA mutations become undetectable in the plasma at the time of recurrence, suggesting that more than one customized probe should be used for monitoring ctDNA. Longitudinal ctDNA testing using tumor-informed assays may identify the presence of residual tumors, predict responses to treatment, and identify early recurrences in USC/CS patients. Recognition of disease persistence and/or recurrence through ctDNA surveillance may allow earlier treatment of recurrent disease and has the potential to change clinical practice in the management of USC and CS patients. CtDNA validation studies in USC/CS patients prospectively enrolled in treatment trials are warranted.

Keywords: biomarkers; ctDNA; early detection; liquid biopsy; uterine carcinosarcoma; uterine serous carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinosarcoma* / diagnosis
  • Carcinosarcoma* / genetics
  • Carcinosarcoma* / therapy
  • Circulating Tumor DNA* / genetics
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous* / diagnosis
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous* / genetics
  • Cystadenocarcinoma, Serous* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Uterine Neoplasms* / therapy


  • Circulating Tumor DNA
  • Biomarkers, Tumor