Minimal Residual Disease Assessment in Lymphoma: Methods and Applications.

Standard methods for disease response assessment in patients with lymphoma, including positron emission tomography and computed tomography scans, are imperfect. In other hematologic malignancies, particularly leukemias, the ability to detect minimal residual disease (MRD) is increasingly influencing treatment paradigms. However, in many subtypes of lymphoma, the application of MRD assessment techniques, like flow cytometry or polymerase chain reaction-based methods, has been challenging because of the absence of readily detected circulating disease or canonic chromosomal translocations. Newer MRD detection methods that use next-generation sequencing have yielded promising results in a number of lymphoma subtypes, fueling the hope that MRD detection may soon be applicable in clinical practice for most patients with lymphoma. MRD assessment can provide real-time information about tumor burden and response to therapy, noninvasive genomic profiling, and monitoring of clonal dynamics, allowing for many possible applications that could significantly affect the care of patients with lymphoma. Further validation of MRD assessment methods, including the incorporation of MRD assessment into clinical trials in patients with lymphoma, will be critical to determine how best to deploy MRD testing in routine practice and whether MRD assessment can ultimately bring us closer to the goal of personalized lymphoma care. In this review article, we describe the methods available for detecting MRD in patients with lymphoma and their relative advantages and disadvantages. We discuss preliminary results supporting the potential applications for MRD testing in the care of patients with lymphoma and strategies for including MRD assessment in lymphoma clinical trials.

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