Circulating Tumor DNA to Monitor Therapy for Aggressive B-Cell Lymphomas

Mary Kwok, S. Peter Wu, Clifton Mo, Thomas Summers, Mark Roschewski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The goal of therapy for aggressive B-cell lymphomas such as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is to achieve cure. Combination chemotherapy with rituximab cures most patients, but those with recurrent disease have a poor prognosis. Medical imaging scans such as computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) are the principal methods to assess response and monitor for disease relapse after therapy but are fundamentally limited by risks of radiation, cost, and a lack of tumor specificity. Novel sequencing-based DNA monitoring methods are capable of quantifying small amounts of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) before, during, and after therapy for mature B-cell lymphomas. Detection of ctDNA encoding clonal rearranged variable-diversity-joining (VDJ) receptor gene sequences has demonstrated improved analytical sensitivity and enhanced tumor specificity compared to imaging scans in DLBCL, offering broad clinical applicability across a range of aggressive B-cell lymphomas. Molecular monitoring of ctDNA has vaulted into the spotlight as a promising non-invasive tool with immediate clinical impact on monitoring for recurrence after therapy prior to clinical symptoms. As these clinical observations are validated, ctDNA monitoring needs to be investigated as a tool for response-adapted therapy and as a marker of minimal residual disease upon completion of therapy in aggressive B-cell lymphomas. Molecular monitoring of ctDNA holds tremendous promise that may ultimately transform our ability to monitor disease in aggressive B-cell lymphomas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
JournalCurrent Treatment Options in Oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Circulating tumor DNA
  • Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
  • Liquid biopsy
  • MRD
  • Minimal residual disease
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Response-adapted
  • Surveillance imaging
  • VDJ


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