Circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) refers to extracellular DNA present in body fluid that may be derived from both normal and diseased cells. The concentration, integrity, genetic, and epigenetic alternations in the cfDNA may suggest pathological conditions of the body, such as inflammation, autoimmune diseases, stress, or even malignancies. cfDNA from patients with malignancies contains variants as those in the tumor tissue cells, thus allowing noninvasive assessment of tumor in real time. The clinical detection of cfDNA is one major application of liquid biopsy and has great application value in the early diagnosis of clinical tumors, real-time progression monitoring, curative effect observation and evaluation, prognosis assessment, and metastasis risk analysis. This chapter summarizes the origin of cell-free DNA and its important clinical applications as a noninvasive biomarker.
Part of the book: Liquid Biopsy