Background: Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) has predictive and prognostic value in localized and metastatic cancer. This study analyzed the prognostic value of baseline and on-treatment ctDNA in metastatic gastroesophageal cancer (mGEC) using a region-specific next generation sequencing (NGS) panel. Methods: Cell free DNA was isolated from plasma of patients before start of first-line palliative systemic treatment and after 9 and 18 weeks. Two NGS panels were designed comprising the most frequently mutated genes and targetable mutations in GEC. Tumor-derived mutations in matched metastatic biopsies were used to validate that the sequencing panels assessed true tumor-derived variants. Tumor volumes were calculated from baseline CT scans and correlated to variant allele frequency (VAF). Survival analyses were performed using univariable and multivariable Cox-regression analyses. Results: ctDNA was detected in pretreatment plasma in 75% of 72 patients and correlated well with mutations in metastatic biopsies (86% accordance). The VAF correlated with baseline tumor volume (Pearson’s R 0.53, p < 0.0001). Detection of multiple gene mutations at baseline in plasma was associated with worse overall survival (OS, HR 2.16, 95% CI 1.10–4.28; p = 0.027) and progression free survival (PFS, HR 2.71, 95% CI 1.28–5.73; p = 0.009). OS and PFS were inferior in patients with residual detectable ctDNA after 9 weeks of treatment (OS: HR 4.95, 95% CI 1.53–16.04; p = 0.008; PFS: HR 4.08, 95% CI 1.31–12.75; p = 0.016). Conclusion: Based on our NGS panel, the number of ctDNA mutations before start of first-line chemotherapy has prognostic value. Moreover, residual ctDNA after three cycles of systemic treatment is associated with inferior survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-915
Number of pages10
JournalGastric cancer
Issue number5
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Circulating tumor DNA
  • Gastroesophageal cancer
  • Palliative treatment
  • Predictive factor

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