High Risk for Cancer Recurrence

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Associate Director: Jamie Chaft
Scientific Leads: Marc Ladanyi, Michael Berger, and Jorge Reis-Filho
Operational Lead: Michelle Lamendola-Essel

Project Description: Performing surgery to remove a tumor followed by monitoring with imaging techniques, such as PET scans, is standard treatment for many people with solid tumors. Despite these efforts at curing the cancer, the tumors come back in many people.

Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), which can be obtained during a routine blood draw, can be used to detect minimal residual disease. This technique is often called a liquid biopsy.

The presence of circulating DNA molecules that contain mutations that match those found in someone’s tumor is a direct indication that tumor cells remain after surgery. Cells containing this DNA are associated with a higher risk of cancer coming back and spreading.

These studies suggest that ctDNA can be used as a biomarker for residual disease. If people with residual disease could be identified early after completing surgery or during follow-up (adjuvant) therapy, they could be given additional treatments focused on a complete cure.

This initiative will establish clinical trials for people who may potentially benefit from additional therapies after surgery. In addition to these trials, this initiative aims to further develop MSK-ACCESS, our next-generation sequencing test to detect residual disease. It is also focused on designing and implementing research protocols for samples collected from people in this group.