A small number of tumor cells may remain in patients with cancer during and following treatment, even if the patient is in remission. This minority subgroup of cells is termed minimal residual disease (MRD). The level of MRD can be used as an indicator of prognosis, to determine treatment efficacy and to detect cancer recurrence. MRD status is now often measured as an outcome in clinical trials, with MRD negativity being the ideal outcome. The determination of MRD levels is made by detecting tumor-specific DNA, RNA or proteins, and is primarily performed using next-generation sequencing or flow cytometry.

Despite the potential of MRD status, there are a number of controversies surrounding its use. These include its translation into clinical use, the best method of measurement, what level of MRD is considered curative and whether it be used as an endpoint in clinical trials.

View all videos