The use of circulating tumor DNA for prognosis of gastrointestinal cancers

Hariti Saluja, Christos Karapetis, Susanne Pedersen, Graeme Young, Erin Symonds

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Gastrointestinal cancers, including oesophageal, gastric and colorectal cancers (CRC) have high rates of disease recurrence despite curative resection. There are a number of recent studies that have investigated the use of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) for prognostic value in these cancers. We reviewed studies that had been published prior to March 2018 that assessed the prognostic values of ctDNA in patients with oesophageal and gastric cancers, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and CRC. We identified 63 eligible clinical studies that focussed on recurrence and survival. Studies assessed investigated various ctDNA biomarkers in patients with different stages of cancer undergoing surgical resection, chemotherapy and no treatment. For oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, methylation of certain genes such as APC and DAPK have been highlighted as promising biomarkers for prognostication, but these studies are limited and more comprehensive research is needed. Studies focusing on gastric cancer patients showed that methylation of ctDNA in SOX17 and APC were independently associated with poor survival. Two studies demonstrated an association between ctDNA and recurrence and survival in GIST patients, but more studies are needed for this type of gastrointestinal cancer. A large proportion of the literature was on CRC which identified both somatic mutations and DNA methylation biomarkers to determine prognosis. ctDNA biomarkers that identified somatic mutations were more effective if they were personalized based on mutations found in the primary tumor tissue, but ctDNA methylation studies identified various biomarkers that predicted increased risk of recurrence, poor disease free survival and overall survival. While the use of non-invasive ctDNA biomarkers for prognosis is promising, larger studies are needed to validate the clinical utility for optimizing treatment and surveillance strategies to reduce mortality from gastrointestinal cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number275
Number of pages19
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Issue numberJuly
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2018


  • Cell free circulating DNA
  • Circulating tumor DNA
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gastric cancer
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Recurrence
  • Survival


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