Circulating Tumor DNA: Disruptive Technology in Medicine


The phenomenon of tumors shedding DNA into the blood has opened exciting opportunities in cancer diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment. Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in blood plasma can be detected by multiple new technologies. ctDNA testing is projected to transform and disrupt the disciplines of molecular pathology and clinical oncology by: replacing large sectors of the >$20 billion annual U.S. cancer imaging industry for tumor diagnosis and recurrence; detecting chemotherapeutic tumor-resistance mutations as they develop in patients; replacing highly invasive tissue biopsy and surgery to diagnose and direct recurrent tumor therapy; revolutionizing tumor sampling via diffuse blood perfusion, which may theoretically circumvent the major biologic problem of tumor heterogeneity; and possibly improving cancer screening.

Originally presented on March 17, 2016, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lecture Presenter

Mary Bronner, MD

Mary Bronner, MD

Medical Director, Biocomputing
ARUP Laboratories
Co-Division Chief, Anatomic and Molecular Oncologic Pathology
ARUP Laboratories
Professor of Pathology
University of Utah School of Medicine

Dr. Bronner is a Carl R. Kjeldsberg presidential endowed professor of pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She received her MD from the University of Pennsylvania and completed her pathology residency training and chief residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Bronner’s honors include her election as president of the GI Pathology Society and the award of the Arthur Purdy Stout Prize, recognizing her work as a surgical pathologist under the age of 45 whose research publications have had a major impact on diagnostic pathology. Her research interests include molecular biomarkers for the early detection and prevention of gastrointestinal cancers arising in chronic inflammatory disorders of the intestine, stomach, liver, and pancreas, which together make up the most important causes of human cancer worldwide.


After this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Understand how ctDNA will likely be a disruptive entity in the practice of molecular pathology and clinical oncology.
  • Describe the technologies used to assay ctDNA.
  • Understand the concept of tumor heterogeneity and how ctDNA may be able to circumvent this major issue in tumor molecular diagnosis.

Sponsored by:

University of Utah School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, and ARUP Laboratories