Application of Plasma Genotyping Technologies in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Practical Review

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The rational treatment of metastatic NSCLC hinges on the timely detection of potentially targetable genomic alterations to guide therapy. Recent advances in highly sensitive genotyping technologies have allowed for development of novel plasma genotyping assays that are capable of noninvasively detecting targetable alterations in plasma cell-free DNA without reliance on traditional tissue genotyping. The rapid development of plasma genotyping has led to an explosion in the number of assay platforms available from both commercial and laboratory sources. The sheer number of such platforms has led to confusion among oncologists as to both the test characteristics and limitations of individual plasma genotyping assays and the clinical context in which these tests may be utilized either alone or in combination with traditional tissue genotyping. Reliable data from prospective validation against a tissue genotyping reference standard are available for only a limited number of platforms. Careful retrospective validation of alternative platforms utilizing paired tissue and plasma specimens collected under the auspices of clinical trials represent an alternative but reliable validation strategy. A consistent trend among these well-validated plasma genotyping assays has been the observation of high specificity and positive predictive value and more limited sensitivity. At present, validated assays can be considered actionable in instances in which a targetable genomic alteration is detected or an alternative nontargetable driver mutation is detected and can be used to infer the absence of one of the former.

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