Circulating Tumor DNA Testing Overcomes Limitations of Comprehensive Genomic Profiling from Tumor Tissue.
"Liquid biopsy" is an established technique for examining circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from a routine blood draw and detecting actionable biomarkers. Nonetheless, ctDNA testing is rarely utilized for patients with newly diagnosed metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC). We report a case in which ctDNA testing uncovered an actionable biomarker that was not detected by comprehensive genomic profiling of tumor tissue. An 81-year-old woman with a remote history of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma presented with primary masses in the ascending colon and sigmoid colon. The ascending colon and sigmoid colon tumors were classified as microsatellite stable (MSS) and mismatch repair proficient (pMMR), and both ctDNA and tissue next-generation sequencing (NGS) from the ascending colon mass were ordered. Because tissue NGS results indicated that the ascending colon tumor was MSS, palliative 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, and oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) chemotherapy was started. However, the ctDNA NGS results that arrived after the start of FOLFOX found high microsatellite instability (MSI-H) and mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR) disease with a serine/threonine-protein kinase B-Raf (BRAF V600E ) mutation. To treat both her MSS/pMMR ascending colon and sigmoid colon tumors and MSI-H/dMMR metastatic disease, the immunotherapy nivolumab was added to FOLFOX. After 8 months of combined nivolumab and chemotherapy, the patient's metastatic disease had a complete clinical response. This case highlights the complementary role of ctDNA testing for biomarker identification. By performing simultaneous ctDNA testing at the time of diagnosis, an actionable biomarker was discovered that significantly altered this patient's prognosis and treatment options. Orthogonal testing of key molecular alterations offers significant advantages for identifying actionable biomarkers and improving management of metastatic CRC.