The goal of cancer therapy is to eliminate all cancer cells in a patient by surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. If residual cancer cells remain after therapy, the patient is more likely to have recurrent disease. Thus, detection of small amounts of residual cancer is predictive of relapse. Methods for detecting small amounts of cancer may include microscopy, cytogenetic studies, immunohistochemical or immunofluorescent staining, or sensitive molecular techniques. Although very sensitive methods are available to detect residual cancer, there is no agreement as to whether and how to treat patients with minimal residual disease.
Sabath, D. E. (2013). Minimal Residual Disease. In Brenner’s Encyclopedia of Genetics: Second Edition (pp. 417–419). Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-374984-0.00951-7