ANZ Journal of Surgery
Centre for Precision Health / School of Medical and Health Sciences
Australian Rotary Health / Australasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group / Avant Foundation / St John of God Foundation
Background: Identifying patients at high risk for colorectal cancer recurrence is essential for improving prognosis. In the postoperative period, circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) has been demonstrated as a significant prognostic indicator of recurrence. These results have been obtained under the strict rigours of clinical trials, but not validated in a real-world setting using in-house testing. We report the outcomes of locally performed postoperative ctDNA testing conducted during routine clinical care and the association with the recurrence of colorectal cancer. Methods: We recruited 36 consecutive patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer between 2018 and 2020. Postoperative plasma samples were collected at the first outpatient review following resection. Tumour-informed ctDNA analysis was performed using droplet digital polymerase chain reaction or targeted next-generation sequencing. Results: At the time of surgery, there were 24 patients (66.7%) with localized cancer, nine (25%) with nodal spread, and three (8.3%) with metastatic disease. The median time from surgery to plasma sample donation was 22 days (IQR 20–28 days). At least one somatic mutation was identified in primary tumour tissue for 28 (77.8%) patients. Postoperative ctDNA was detected in five patients (13.9%). The median duration of follow-up was 32.0 months (IQR 27.2–38.1 months). Two patients (5.56%) developed metastatic recurrence. However, neither had detectable postoperative ctDNA. There were no instances of loco-regional recurrence. Conclusion: Analysis of postoperative ctDNA testing can be performed locally, however this study did not reproduce the adverse association between detectable postoperative ctDNA and the development of colorectal cancer recurrence seen in clinical trials.
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