Cell-free tumor DNA (ctDNA), often known as a “liquid biopsy,” is a tumor DNA sample released into the bloodstream by cancer cells. Here, researchers examined whether or not cell-free human papillomavirus DNA (ctHPV DNA) can be detected in patients with cervical cancer or premalignant lesions that may progress to cervical cancer and whether or not ctHPV DNA levels were connected with patient or tumor characteristics and outcome. Furthermore, cfAlbumin DNA is used as a proxy marker for the overall amount of cell-free DNA. There were 18 individuals diagnosed with LACC (locally advanced CC) and 15 diagnosed with early-stage CC (ESCC), and 21 individuals with premalignant lesions and HPV16, 18, or 45 positivity were enrolled alongside 18 patients with locally advanced cervix cancer. The levels of HPV16, HPV18, and HPV45 in plasma and the total cfDNA burden were measured before, during, and after therapy by digital droplet PCR. Pretreatment plasma samples from patients with LACC (94.4%) and ESCC (26.7%) had ctHPV DNA, while premalignant lesion samples were completely negative. The FIGO2018 stage was positively linked with ctHPV DNA level. Progression-free survival (PFS) was significantly lower for patients with LACC who still had detectable ctHPV DNA after treatment (P=0.007) compared to those who had ctHPV DNA eliminated. Patients whose pre-treatment plasma total ctDNA levels were greater than the median had a shorter PFS (P=0.026) than those whose total ctDNA-levels were less than the median. Research into the clinical utility of ctHPV DNA as a predictive biomarker in locally advanced cervical cancer is warranted.
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