Use of Circulating Tumor DNA to Detect Breast Cancer
As the release of tumor-associated DNA into blood circulation is a common event in patients with cancer, screening of plasma or serum DNA may provide information on genetic and epigenetic profiles associated with breast cancer development, progression, and response to therapy. Quantitative testing of circulating DNA can reflect tumor burden, and molecular characterization of circulating DNA can reveal important tumor characteristics relevant to the choice of targeted therapies in individual patients. Contrary to circulating DNA from blood that presents molecular changes in tumor DNA in real time, tissue biopsies can deliver only a spatially and temporally limited snapshot of the heterogeneous tumor. Analyses of circulating DNA might provide prognostic and predictive information and therefore advance personalized medicine. However, standardization of different technical platforms as well as the control of pre-analytical and analytical factors is mandatory before its introduction into clinical practice. In the present review, we discussed technical aspects and clinical relevance of the analyses of circulating plasma/serum DNA in patients with breast cancer.