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PLOS Medicine Special Issue: Early detection and Minimal Residual Disease

The global cancer burden for 2016 has been estimated at 17.2 million new cases, with 8.9 million deaths, and the most substantial increase in cases occurring in the world’s least developed countries, linked with population ageing. Despite considerable advances in cancer genomics, driven in large part by improvements in sequencing technology, direct benefits for patients in the clinic have been slow to come thus far from this area of research.

Future opportunities to advance patient care include those linked with the development of new technologies for early tumour detection, since patients whose cancers are detected early may have better long-term survival than patients who only receive a diagnosis later. This area of research holds particular promise for some cancers, such as ovarian cancer, and others, which are often detected late, with serious implications for prognosis and overall mortality rates. Translational and clinical research in the areas of early detection and associated areas, such as the detection of minimal residual disease, therefore hold promise for improving patient care. 

In order to inform clinicians and researchers of new developments in this realm the editors at PLOS Medicine are delighted to announce that we will be devoting a special issue to the early detection of and minimum residual disease in cancer.

Together with guest editors Charles Swanton, Sara-Jane Dawson and Chris Abbosh, we are inviting submissions for this special issue until 15 March 2021. We will consider high-quality translational and clinical studies, and priority will be given to research articles likely to directly inform clinical advances for patients. In particular we welcome submissions in the following areas:

  • Insights enabling earlier cancer detection, including both the roles played both by traditional tumour biomarkers as well as those of potential new cancer markers such as circulating tumour DNA;

  • Targets used to establish the level of minimal residual disease, and applications deriving from these, potentially informing prognosis and/or the personalisation of management plans

For further details on how to submit your article for inclusion in this special issue please see and contact the journal at with any questions. The submission deadline is March 15 2021.

Image credit: NIH Image Gallery (original image by Alex Ritter, Jennifer Lippincott Schwartz and Gillian Griffiths, National Institutes of Health)

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