Liquid biopsy to monitor melanoma patients

Maria Rita Gaiser*, Nikolas von Bubnoff, Christoffer Gebhardt, Jochen Sven Utikal

*Corresponding author for this work
3 Citations (Scopus)


During the last six years, several innovative, systemic therapies for the treatment of metastatic malignant melanoma (MM) have emerged. Conventional chemotherapy has been superseded by novel first-line therapies, including systemic immunotherapies (anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD1; authorization of anti-PDL1 is anticipated) and therapies targeting specific mutations (BRAF, NRAS, and c-KIT). Thus, treating physicians are confronted with new challenges, such as stratifying patients for appropriate treatments and monitoring long-term responders for progression. Consequently, reliable methods for monitoring disease progression or treatment resistance are necessary. Localized and advanced cancers may generate circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) that can be detected and quantified from peripheral blood samples (liquid biopsy). For melanoma patients, liquid biopsy results may be useful as novel predictive biomarkers to guide therapeutic decisions, particularly in the context of mutation-based targeted therapies. The challenges of using liquid biopsy include strict criteria for the phenotypic nature of circulating MM cells or their fragments and the instability of ctDNA in blood. The limitations of liquid biopsy in routine diagnostic testing are discussed in this review.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJDDG - Journal of the German Society of Dermatology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)405-414
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 04.2018


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