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Somatic alterations to the genomes of solid tumours, which in some cases represent actionable drivers, provide diagnostic and prognostic insight into these complex diseases. Spatial and longitudinal tracking of somatic genomic alterations (SGAs) in patient tumours has emerged as a new avenue of investigation, not only as a disease monitoring strategy, but also to improve our understanding of heterogeneity and clonal evolution from diagnosis through disease progression. Furthermore, analysis of circulating-free DNA (cfDNA) in the so-called "liquid biopsy" has emerged as a non-invasive method to identify genomic information to inform targeted therapy and may also capture the heterogeneity of the primary and metastatic tumours. Considering the potential of cfDNA analysis as a translational laboratory tool in clinical practice, establishing the extent to which cfDNA represents the SGAs of tumours, particularly actionable driver alterations, becomes a matter of importance, warranting standardisation of methods and practices. Here, we assess the utilisation of cfDNA for molecular profiling of SGAs in tumour tissue across a broad range of solid tumours. Moreover, we examine the underlying factors contributing to discordance of detected SGAs between cfDNA and tumour tissue.

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Department of Life Sciences, Birmingham City University, Birmingham B15 3TN, UK.