Introduction There are no reliable blood biomarkers for monitoring endometrial cancer patients in the current clinical practice. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is emerging as a promising non-invasive method to measure tumor burden, define prognosis and monitor disease status in many solid cancers. In this pilot study, we investigated if unique tumor-specific DNA junctions can be used to detect ctDNA levels in patients with endometrial cancer. Methods Chromosomal rearrangements in primary tumors of eleven patients with high-grade or advanced stage endometrial cancer were determined by whole-genome Mate-Pair sequencing. Identified unique tumor-specific junctions were evaluated in pre- and six-week post-surgery patient plasma using individualized quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays. The relationship between clinicopathological features and detection of ctDNA was investigated. Results CtDNA was detected in 60% (6/10) of cases pre-surgery and in 27% (3/11) post-surgery. The detection of ctDNA pre-surgery was consistent with clinical indicators of aggressive disease such as advanced stage (80% - 4/5), lymphatic spread of disease (100% - 3/3), serous histology (80% - 4/5), deep myometrial invasion (100% - 3/3), lympho-vascular space invasion (75% - 3/4). All patients in which ctDNA was detected post-surgically had type II endometrial cancer. Discussion This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility of using personalized tumor-specific junction panels for detecting ctDNA in the plasma of endometrial cancer patients. Larger studies and longer follow-up are needed to validate the potential association between pre-surgical ctDNA detection and the presence of cancers with aggressive pathologic tumor characteristics or advanced stage observed in this study.
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