This study aimed to investigate factors, which influence the content of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA).
398 serial plasma samples were collected within 1-7 consecutive days from patients with EGFR-mutated lung cancer (n = 13), RAS/RAF-mutated colorectal cancer (n = 54) and BRAF-mutated melanoma (n = 17), who presented with measurable tumor disease. The amount of ctDNA was determined by ddPCR.
Among 82 patients, who donated 2-6 serial plasma samples, 42 subjects were classified as ctDNA-positive; only 22% cases were mutation-positive across all consecutive tests, while 24/82 (29%) patients showed presence of mutated ctDNA in some but not all blood draws. Subjects with progressing tumors had higher probability of being detected ctDNA-positive as compared to patients, who responded to therapy or had stable disease (39/55 (71%) vs. 4/24 (17%); p = 0.0001). Our study failed to reveal the impact of the time of the day, recent meal or prior physical exercise on the results of ctDNA testing.
Presence of ctDNA in plasma is particularly characteristic for patients, who experience clinical progression of tumor disease. Consecutive plasma tests may occasionally provide discordant data; thus, the repetition of analysis may be advised in certain cases in order to ensure the validity of negative ctDNA result.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.