This AMP certificate program contains 5 hours of lecture content, the associated pdf slides of the lectures, a post-course exam, and an AMP Certificate of Completion. It does not include CME/CMLE or SAM.

Circulating tumor DNA has shown much promise as a minimally invasive test that could allow for disease detection, identification of targetable variants, and monitoring of tumor response. This AMP certificate program, featuring expert speakers in the field, will: define circulating tumor DNA, explain technical challenges, describe approaches for assay design and validation, highlight clinical applications of testing, and will review selected new published studies and guidelines. Participants can expect, upon completion of this certificate program, to be familiar with the current state of circulating tumor DNA testing for personalized medicine. 

Target Audience: Practicing pathologists, oncologists, medical trainees and other healthcare professionals in the U.S. and abroad.

This certificate program was planned and coordinated by the Content Directors:

  • Rashmi Goswami, MD, PhD, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto
  • Susan Hsiao, MD, PhD Columbia University Medical Center

and supported by the Training & Education Committee (Cecilia C.S. Yeung, MD, Chair) 

Duration: 5 hours

There is no CME/CMLE or SAMs available for this certificate program.

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Course Information
Course Date:
November 26, 2018
Introduction and Course Materials
Promises and Pitfalls of Circulating Tumor DNA


In oncology, there are a variety of potential clinical applications for a minimally invasive blood test for DNA released from tumor cells. Such applications include detecting early stage disease, tracking response to therapy, prompt identification of disease relapse or recurrence, and recognition of clonal evolution. Numerous small-scale studies have demonstrated that quantitation of mutations in circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is feasible from the blood of cancer patients. The increased adoption of targeted cancer therapies underscores the need to augment invasive tissue biopsies with alternative detection methods that rapidly monitor treatment response. Although most studies have been proof of principle, ctDNA methods hold great promise in cancer diagnostics.

Learning Objectives

Define circulating, cell-free tumor DNA (ctDNA)

- Explain the pre-analytic and standardization challenges associated with ctDNA

- Summarize the clinical utility of ctDNA in lung cancer and breast cancer

Recorded: June 2016

Speaker Information
Christina Lockwood PhD  [ view bio ]
Cell Free DNA Testing for Cancer: Clinical Validation and Implementation


This webinar will address current concepts in the realm of cell free DNA testing for cancer, with an emphasis on the role of plasma-based testing in patients with non small cell lung carcinoma. Topics to be covered include: the process for validating and implementing cfDNA testing in the hospital setting, the clinical role for cfDNA testing in cancer patients with an emphasis on EGFR-mutated lung carcinoma, and approaches to next generation sequencing for cfDNA.  Practical issues will be emphasized, including clinical performance characteristics of available assays and specimen handling considerations.  Selected studies demonstrating the future potential of cfDNA testing for cancer monitoring will be reviewed.

Learning Objective:

Describe the clinical need for alternatives to tumor tissue testing and the current role for cell free DNA diagnostics in lung cancer

- Describe approaches to cfDNA assay design and validation

- Identify the challenges of validation and implementation of cfDNA testing in the clinical laboratory

- Describe the utility and approach of targeted genotyping versus next generation sequencing from cfDNA

Recorded: September 2017

Speaker Information
Lynette M. Sholl MD  [ view bio ]
Clinical Applications and Technologies for Circulating Tumor DNA Detection


These talks explore the clinical applications of cell-free DNA and liquid biopsies in cancer patients. Dr. Michael Speicher describes the Plasma-Seq technology which looks for focal amplifications/deletions of driver genes using plasma DNA. Dr. Maximillian Diehn describes the Capp-Seq technology, a sensitive NGS-based method to monitor emerging resistant mutations and minimal residual disease, and Dr. Maria Arcila will describe the clinical implementation of liquid biopsy for cancer patients.

Learning Objectives:

Describe advances in technology that permit analysis of circulating biomarkers.

- Explain the application of these technologies to diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.

- Discuss current issues and limitations regarding the utilization of these biomarkers.

- Discuss the pre-analytic and standardization challenges associated with ctDNA.

- Summarize the clinical utility of dPCR in ctDNA testing. 

Recorded: November 2016 and November 2018

Speaker Information
Michael R. Speicher MD  [ view bio ]
Maximillian Diehn MD, PhD  [ view bio ]
Maria Arcila MD  [ view bio ]
Liquid Biopsies and Cancer Screening


These two short presentations summarizes the most recent papers that describe how liquid biopsies are being used to screen for cancers.

The first clip is taken from Dr. Federico Monzon's opening lecture for the 2017 Molecular Pathology Outreach Course (AMPlicons: A Practical Molecular Toolkit and Case Studies). In this clip, he introduces the emerging field of liquid biopsies and specifically describes an exciting finding from a recent paper (Chan et al. 2017) that analyzes blood plasma to screen for Nasopharyngeal Cancer. 

In the second talk, Dr. Susan Hsiao discusses the recent paper describing the CancerSEEK technology (Cohen JD et al. 2018), a noninvasive blood test that can potentially detect eight common human cancer types.

Learning Objectives:

Describe utility of cancer screening by liquid biopsy.

- Recognize technical issues and challenges surrounding cancer screening by liquid biopsy.

- Discuss limitations to cancer screening by liquid biopsy.

Recorded: November 2017 and May 2018

Speaker Information
Federico Monzon MD  [ view bio ]
Susan Hsiao MD, PhD  [ view bio ]
Reviews on the Clinical Utility of Circulating Tumor DNA analysis, Closing Remarks, and Additional Materials


Dr. Rashmi Goswami discusses two review papers from ASCO-CAP and the IASLC which provide evidence-based examinations on the current clinical utility of circulating tumor DNA analysis. In addition, she provides closing remarks to wrap up the course.

Recorded: November 2018 

Speaker Information
Rashmi Goswami MD, PhD  [ view bio ]
Individual topic purchase: Selected
Association for Molecular Pathology
AMP Certificate Program: 5.00
AMP Certificate ctDNA
AMP Regular Member: $299.00
AMP Technologist Member: $299.00
AMP Associate Member: $299.00
Non-member Price: $399.00