Figure in red dress, "How ctDNA Testing can help inform management", Charles Weaver MD.

ctDNA Testing: A New Frontier in Breast Cancer Treatment

Dr. Charles H. Weaver, M.D., Medical Oncologist, Editor Cancer Connect & Medical Advisor, Learn Look Locate.

Dr. C.H. Weaver, M.D., illuminates the transformative role of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) testing in breast cancer treatment. This breakthrough technology provides personalized and precise insights into cancer treatment, marking a significant leap in oncological care.

What is ctDNA?

Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) consists of small DNA fragments that originate from cancer cells and circulate in the bloodstream. It’s distinct from cell-free DNA (cfDNA), which encompasses all DNA types present in the blood. The cancer-specific nature of ctDNA offers an invaluable tool for detailed and personalized cancer surveillance, enabling oncologists to track the unique genetic mutations of individual tumors.

ctDNA’s Impact on Early-Stage Cancer Management

The detection of ctDNA post-surgery serves as a vital predictor of potential cancer recurrence. In the realm of early-stage breast cancer, ctDNA’s ability to identify minimal residual disease (MRD) has the potential to revolutionize monitoring practices. Traditionally reliant on imaging techniques, such as CT, MRI, and PET scans, these methods often fall short in detecting MRD. ctDNA, however, can be identified in the blood well before it manifests in imaging scans, offering an earlier and more accurate assessment of cancer recurrence.

Signatera™: Personalized ctDNA Testing

Signatera™, a custom-built ctDNA test, offers personalized treatment monitoring and MRD assessment. Each test is tailored to the individual’s tumor, providing a unique and sensitive method to detect and quantify even the smallest traces of cancer in the body. Medicare’s recognition of Signatera for certain stages of breast cancer underscores its significance and applicability across various breast cancer subtypes, including HR-positive, HER2-positive, and triple-negative breast cancers.

Diverse Applications of ctDNA Testing

The clinical applications of ctDNA extend far beyond MRD detection. It is instrumental in managing metastatic cancer, monitoring response to treatment, identifying genomic drivers of therapeutic sensitivity and resistance, and guiding adjustments in treatment strategies. These diverse applications underscore ctDNA’s versatility and importance in personalized cancer care.

Navigating ctDNA Testing Process

To initiate ctDNA testing, such as with Signatera, a healthcare provider must request the test. After the initial tissue sample is used to build the ctDNA profile, periodic blood samples are required for MRD monitoring or recurrence detection. This process ensures that the ctDNA testing is precisely aligned with the patient’s unique cancer profile.

Answering Key Patient Questions

In addressing common patient questions, experts provide clarity on various aspects of ctDNA testing:

  • Interpreting “Positive Below Analytical Range” results.
  • Understanding the implications of post-treatment ctDNA positivity.
  • Exploring ctDNA’s interaction with chemotherapy.
  • Differentiating between ctDNA and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) testing.

Learn Look Locate: Empowering Breast Cancer Journey

ctDNA testing is reshaping the landscape of breast cancer management. Enabling earlier detection and customized treatment strategies, represents a significant advancement in the pursuit of more effective and personalized cancer care. Learn Look Locate is committed to empowering individuals through their breast cancer journey. By providing education and support on the latest advancements, such as ctDNA testing, we strive to enhance the treatment experience with knowledge, support, and a sense of community.