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Nat Rev Cancer. 2017 Apr;17(4):223-238. doi: 10.1038/nrc.2017.7. Epub 2017 Feb 24.

Liquid biopsies come of age: towards implementation of circulating tumour DNA.

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Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0RE, UK.
Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, Cambridge CB2 0RE, UK.
Clinical Trials Unit, Clinic Institute of Haematological and Oncological Diseases, Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, IDIBAPs, Carrer de Villarroel, 170 Barcelona 08036, Spain.
Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge Hutchison-MRC Research Centre, Box 197, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Cambridge CB2 0XZ, UK.


Improvements in genomic and molecular methods are expanding the range of potential applications for circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), both in a research setting and as a 'liquid biopsy' for cancer management. Proof-of-principle studies have demonstrated the translational potential of ctDNA for prognostication, molecular profiling and monitoring. The field is now in an exciting transitional period in which ctDNA analysis is beginning to be applied clinically, although there is still much to learn about the biology of cell-free DNA. This is an opportune time to appraise potential approaches to ctDNA analysis, and to consider their applications in personalized oncology and in cancer research.

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