Improvements in genomic and molecular methods are expanding the range of potential applications for circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA), both in a research setting and as a 'liquid biopsy' for cancer management. Proof-of-principle studies have demonstrated the translational potential of ctDNA for prognostication, molecular profiling and monitoring. The field is now in an exciting transitional period in which ctDNA analysis is beginning to be applied clinically, although there is still much to learn about the biology of cell-free DNA. This is an opportune time to appraise potential approaches to ctDNA analysis, and to consider their applications in personalized oncology and in cancer research.
At a glance
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