Why we are working on this

Cancer incidence is increasing worldwide and in the UK it is estimated that 1 in 2 people born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime. New tests that analyse circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) in the bloodstream of patients with cancer have the potential to transform the management of the disease.

Cancer is a genetic disease and many of the new approaches developed to manage it rely on an understanding of tumour genetics. New therapies are being developed, for a variety of cancers, that target tumours that harbour specific mutations. Read our introductory briefing note to find out more about ctDNA technologies and how they could increase patient access to these new therapies and improve cancer management.


ctDNA technologies are a great example of personalised healthcare in action. Currently ctDNA technologies are being implemented in a small subset of lung cancer patients, potentially opening up the option of new therapies better suited to their tumours. We want to make sure that the healthcare system learns from areas where ctDNA technologies are already being used to ensure it is implemented effectively and efficiently in the future, in order to bring the greatest benefits to patients.

What we are doing?

We are investigating ctDNA technologies, the cancers in which they could have an impact and the most pressing issues that are affecting implementation of ctDNA testing within the health system.

  • Reviewing the use of ctDNA technologies in lung cancer to inform treatment decisions 
  • Bringing together experts from a wide range of relevant fields, including the laboratories offering testing, to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the widespread implementation of ctDNA testing services in lung cancer
  • Identifying challenges and issues and continuing to support the effective implementation of services

Project timeline

April 2017
Briefing note ctDNA technology in lung cancer: personalised healthcare in action and accompanying blog 

December 2016
Briefing note Circulating tumour DNA technology: the future of cancer management? and accompanying blog 

May 2016
Healthcare futures infographic What is a ctDNA liquid biopsy? and accompanying blog Liquid biopsy - liquid gold for cancer management

Laura provides support for a variety of projects at PHG Foundation, including infectious disease genomics.

More about Laura