Circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA in colon cancer
Prospects and difficulties in implementation
It is known that tumor cells have the ability to penetrate into the bloodstream. The identification of such circulating tumor cells (CTC) determines the prognosis in several tumors, including colon cancer. Tumor DNA (ctDNA), which is only a part of the total circulating DNA obtained from the blood of cancer patients, is also further separated from plasma. This separation of the neoplastic derivatives of the primary tumor and metastases (CTC, ctDNA, RNA, proteome) in plasma is called “liquid biopsy.” CTC increasingly represents the pool of tumor cells that can initiate the growth of metastatic lesions, while the ctDNA provides the information about the whole tumor mass. Traditional tissue biopsy gives information based only on one small section of the primary tumor or metastasis, often retrieved before the start of treatment; however, liquid biopsy provides real-time information about the molecular disorders for the whole tumor mass and allows us to estimate the dynamics of the evolutionary tumor changes, the heterogeneity of the disease, and the effect of chemotherapy. With the possibility of obtaining multiple blood samples for analysis during the therapy, in contrast to traditional biopsy, it also allows us to evaluate the mechanisms of resistance to treatment, which in the future will perhaps lead to modification of the treatment in accordance with the detected molecular defects in tumors. Thus, this would facilitate implementing the principles of personalized therapy. In this literature review, we concentrate on liquid biopsy in patients with colon cancer.