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Ann Surg Oncol. 2008 Apr;15(4):1193-201. doi: 10.1245/s10434-007-9771-3. Epub 2008 Jan 3.

EGFR, HER2, and HER3 expression in laryngeal primary tumors and corresponding metastases.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, The Second Affiliated Hospital, and Cancer Institute, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Jiefang Road 88, Hangzhou, 310009, PR China.



There are several substances available to target members of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family, both for imaging in nuclear medicine and for various forms of therapy. The level and stability of expression in both primary tumors and corresponding metastases is crucial in the assessment of a receptor as a target in systemic tumor therapy. To date, the expression of EGFR family members has only been determined in primary laryngeal carcinomas, and we have not found published data regarding the receptor status in corresponding metastatic lesions.


Expression of EGFR, HER2, and HER3 was investigated immunohistochemically in both lymph node metastases and corresponding primary laryngeal squamous carcinomas (n = 40).


EGFR overexpression (2+ or 3+) was found in 87.5% (35/40) of the laryngeal primary tumors and 82.5% (33/40) of the corresponding lymph node metastases. There was a good agreement between the primary tumors and the paired metastases regarding EGFR expression. HER2 overexpression was found in only four cases (10.5%) of the studied primary tumors and in all cases the HER2 expression was retained in the paired metastases. Another two metastases gained HER2 status when compared to the corresponding primary tumors. Strong HER3 staining was found in 26.7% of both the primary tumors and the corresponding metastases.


The high frequency and stability in EGFR expression is encouraging for efforts to use EGFR targeting agents (e.g. Iressa, Tarceva, Erbitux or radiolabeled antibodies) for therapy of laryngeal carcinoma. For a few laryngeal carcinoma patients with HER2 overexpression, anti-HER2 agents could possibly be used.

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