Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Genomic Profiling of Blood-Derived Circulating Tumor DNA from Patients with Colorectal Cancer: Implications for Response and Resistance to Targeted Therapeutics


Molecular profiling of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is a promising noninvasive tool. Here, next-generation sequencing (NGS) of blood-derived ctDNA was performed in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. We investigated ctDNA-derived genomic alterations, including potential actionability, concordance with tissue NGS, and serial dynamics in 78 patients with colorectal cancer using a clinical-grade NGS assay that detects single nucleotide variants (54-73 genes) and selected copy-number variants, fusions, and indels. Overall, 63 patients [80.8% (63/78)] harbored ctDNA alterations; 59 [75.6% (59/78)], ≥1 characterized alteration (variants of unknown significance excluded). All 59 patients had actionable alterations potentially targetable with FDA-approved drugs [on-label and/or off-label (N = 54) or with experimental drugs in clinical trials (additional five patients); University of California San Diego Molecular Tumor Board assessment]: 45, by OncoKB ( The tissue and blood concordance rates for common specific alterations ranged from 62.3% to 86.9% (median = 5 months between tests). In serial samples from patients on anti-EGFR therapy, multiple emerging alterations in genes known to be involved in therapeutic resistance, including KRAS, NRAS, BRAF, EGFR, ERBB2, and MET were detected. In conclusion, over 80% of patients with stage IV colorectal cancer had detectable ctDNA, and the majority had potentially actionable alterations. Concordance between tissue and blood was between 62% and 87%, despite a median of 5 months between tests. Resistance alterations emerged on anti-EGFR therapy. Therefore, biopsy-free, noninvasive ctDNA analysis provides data relevant to the clinical setting. Importantly, sequential ctDNA analysis detects patterns of emerging resistance allowing for precision planning of future therapy.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View