Circulating tumor DNA and magnetic resonance imaging to predict neoadjuvant chemotherapy response and recurrence risk

Magbanua MJM, Li W, Wolf DM, Yau C, Hirst GL, Brown-Swigart L, Newitt DC, Gibbs J, Delson AL, Kalashnikova E, Aleshin A, Zimmermann B, Chien AJ, Tripathy D, Esserman L, Hylton N, van 't Veer L

We investigated whether serial measurements of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and functional tumor volume (FTV) by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be combined to improve prediction of pathologic complete response (pCR) and estimation of recurrence risk in early breast cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). We examined correlations between ctDNA and FTV, evaluated the additive value of ctDNA to FTV-based predictors of pCR using area under the curve (AUC) analysis, and analyzed the impact of FTV and ctDNA on distant recurrence-free survival (DRFS) using Cox regressions. The levels of ctDNA (mean tumor molecules/mL plasma) were significantly correlated with FTV at all time points (p < 0.05). Median FTV in ctDNA-positive patients was significantly higher compared to those who were ctDNA-negative (p < 0.05). FTV and ctDNA trajectories in individual patients showed a general decrease during NAC. Exploratory analysis showed that adding ctDNA information early during treatment to FTV-based predictors resulted in numerical but not statistically significant improvements in performance for pCR prediction (e.g., AUC 0.59 vs. 0.69, p = 0.25). In contrast, ctDNA-positivity after NAC provided significant additive value to FTV in identifying patients with increased risk of metastatic recurrence and death (p = 0.004). In this pilot study, we demonstrate that ctDNA and FTV were correlated measures of tumor burden. Our preliminary findings based on a limited cohort suggest that ctDNA at surgery improves FTV as a predictor of metastatic recurrence and death. Validation in larger studies is warranted

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