There is no useful biomarker to evaluate treatment response and early relapse in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) is a promising biomarker for detecting minimal residual diseases and monitoring treatment effect. We investigated whether individualized ctDNA analysis could help monitor treatment response and relapse in HNSCC. Mutation analysis of tumor and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) DNAs of 26 patients with HNSCC was performed using a custom squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) panel. The identified individualized mutated genes were defined as ctDNA candidates. We investigated whether frequent ctDNA monitoring via digital PCR (dPCR) is clinically valid for HNSCC patients. TP53 was the most frequently mutated gene and was detected in 14 of 24 cases (58.2%), wherein two cases were excluded owing to the absence of tumor-specific mutations in the SCC panel. Six cases were excluded because of undesignable and unusable primer-probes for dPCR. Longitudinal ctDNA was monitored in a total of 18 cases. In seven cases, ctDNA tested positive again or did not test negative, and all seven cases relapsed after initial curative treatment. In 11 cases, after initial curative treatment, ctDNA remained negative and patients were alive without recurrence. Patients who remained negative for ctDNA during follow-up after initial curative treatment (n = 11) had a significantly better prognosis than those who reverted to ctDNA positivity (n = 7; p < 0.0001; log-rank test). Individualized ctDNA monitoring using SCC panel and dPCR might be a novel and promising biomarker for HNSCC.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 2022|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cancer Research