What the blood knows: interrogating circulating tumor DNA to predict progression of minimal residual disease in early breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis for women in the developed world, with an estimated 246,660 new cases in the United States in 2016 (1). Surgical excision is the primary treatment for early stage breast cancer (ESBC), leading to a cure in the majority of patients. However, approximately 25% of patients with ESBC will eventually develop a metastatic recurrence that is incurable in virtually all cases. The risk for recurrence is greatest during the first 5 years after diagnosis, but in some subtypes extends to 20 years. This timeframe suggests an extended period of dormancy during which the growth of micrometastases is restricted, and remains undetectable with current imaging technologies.