1 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Nordsjællands Hospital, The Capital Region of Denmark2 Oncology, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, The Capital Region of Denmark3 Department of Clinical Research, Nordsjællands Hospital, The Capital Region of Denmark
How do we get there?
Abstract A wide range of protein cancer biomarkers is currently recommended in international guidelines for monitoring the growth and regression of solid tumors. However, a number of these markers are also present in low concentrations in blood obtained from healthy individuals and from patients with benign diseases. In contrast, evidence has accumulated that suggests that modified methylated DNA is strongly related to the cancer phenotype. The modifications found in modified methylated DNA include a global loss of methylation in the genomes of the tumor cells as well as focal hypermethylation of gene promoters. Because tumor cells naturally secrete DNA and upon cell death leak DNA, modified methylated DNA can be detected in blood, urine, sputum and other body fluids. At present international guidelines do not include recommendations for monitoring modified methylated DNA. The low level of evidence can partly be explained by incomplete collection of serial blood samples, by analytical challenges, and by lack of knowledge of how monitoring studies should be designed and how serial marker data obtained from individual patients should be interpreted. Here, we review the clinical validity and utility of methylated DNA for monitoring the activity of malignant disease.
Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 2014, Vol 51, Issue 3, p. 149-59