The landscape of actionable genomic alterations in cell-free circulating tumor DNA from 21,807 advanced cancer patients

Oliver A. Zill, Kimberly C. Banks, Stephen R. Fairclough, Stefanie A. Mortimer, James V. Vowles, Reza Mokhtari, David R Gandara, Philip Mack, Justin I. Odegaard, Rebecca J. Nagy, Arthur M. Baca, Helmy Eltoukhy, Darya I. Chudova, Richard B. Lanman, Amir Ali Talasaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Purpose: Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) sequencing provides a noninvasive method for obtaining actionable genomic information to guide personalized cancer treatment, but the presence of multiple alterations in circulation related to treatment and tumor heterogeneity complicate the interpretation of the observed variants. Experimental Design: We describe the somatic mutation landscape of 70 cancer genes from cfDNA deep-sequencing analysis of 21,807 patients with treated, late-stage cancers across >50 cancer types. To facilitate interpretation of the genomic complexity of circulating tumor DNA in advanced, treated cancer patients, we developed methods to identify cfDNA copy-number driver alterations and cfDNA clonality. Results: Patterns and prevalence of cfDNA alterations in major driver genes for non-small cell lung, breast, and colorectal cancer largely recapitulated those from tumor tissue sequencing compendia (The Cancer Genome Atlas and COSMIC; r = 0.90-0.99), with the principal differences in alteration prevalence being due to patient treatment. This highly sensitive cfDNA sequencing assay revealed numerous subclonal tumor-derived alterations, expected as a result of clonal evolution, but leading to an apparent departure from mutual exclusivity in treatment-naïve tumors. Upon applying novel cfDNA clonality and copynumber driver identification methods, robust mutual exclusivity was observed among predicted truncal driver cfDNA alterations (FDR = 5 × 10-7 for EGFR and ERBB2), in effect distinguishing tumor-initiating alterations from secondary alterations. Treatment-associated resistance, including both novel alterations and parallel evolution, was common in the cfDNA cohort and was enriched in patients with targetable driver alterations (>18.6% patients). Conclusions: Together, these retrospective analyses of a large cfDNA sequencing data set reveal subclonal structures and emerging resistance in advanced solid tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3528-3538
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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