Targeted molecular therapies have significantly improved the therapeutic management of advanced lung cancer. The possibility of detecting lung cancer at an early stage is surely an important event in order to improve patient survival. Liquid biopsy has recently demonstrated its clinical utility in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as a possible alternative to tissue biopsy for non-invasive evaluation of specific genomic alterations, thus providing prognostic and predictive information when the tissue is difficult to find or the material is not sufficient for the numerous investigations to be carried out. Several biosources from liquid biopsy, including free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) and RNA (ctRNA), circulating tumor cells (CTCs), exosomes and tumor-educated platelets (TEPs), have been extensively studied for their potential role in the diagnosis of lung cancer. This chapter proposes an overview of the circulating biomarkers assessed for the detention and monitoring of disease evolution with a particular focus on cell-free DNA, on the techniques developed to perform the evaluation and on the results of the most recent studies. The text will analyze in greater depth the liquid biopsy applied to the clinical practice of the management of NSCLC.
Part of the book: Pathology