High-throughput sequencing for noninvasive disease detection in hematologic malignancies

Florian Scherer, David M. Kurtz, Maximilian Diehn and Ash A. Alizadeh


Noninvasive monitoring of minimal residual disease (MRD) has led to significant advances in personalized management of patients with hematologic malignancies. Improved therapeutic options and prolonged survival have further increased the need for sensitive tumor assessment that can inform treatment decisions and patient outcomes. At diagnosis or relapse of most hematologic neoplasms, malignant cells are often easily accessible in the blood as circulating tumor cells (CTCs), making them ideal targets to noninvasively profile the molecular features of each patient. In other cancer types, CTCs are generally rare and noninvasive molecular detection relies on circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) shed from tumor deposits into circulation. The ability to precisely detect and quantify CTCs and ctDNA could minimize invasive procedures and improve prediction of clinical outcomes. Technical advances in MRD detection methods in recent years have led to reduced costs and increased sensitivity, specificity, and applicability. Among currently available tests, high-throughput sequencing (HTS)-based approaches are increasingly attractive for noninvasive molecular testing. HTS-based methods can simultaneously identify multiple genetic markers with high sensitivity and specificity without individual optimization. In this review, we present an overview of techniques used for noninvasive molecular disease detection in selected myeloid and lymphoid neoplasms, with focus on the current and future role of HTS-based assays.

  • Submitted March 27, 2017.
  • Accepted May 25, 2017.