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Head Neck. 2019 May;41(5):1351-1358. doi: 10.1002/hed.25563. Epub 2018 Dec 15.

Plasma circulating tumor DNA as a potential tool for disease monitoring in head and neck cancer.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
2
Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
3
Sahlgrenska Cancer Center, Department of Pathology and Genetics, Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
4
Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
5
Department of Clinical Pathology and Genetics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.
6
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
7
Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recommendations for perioperative therapy in head and neck cancer are not explicit and recurrence occurs frequently. Circulating tumor DNA is an emerging cancer biomarker, but has not been extensively explored for detection of recurrence in head and neck cancer.

METHODS:

Patients diagnosed with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma were recruited into the study protocol. Tumors were sequenced to identify patient-specific mutations. Mutations were then identified in plasma circulating tumor DNA from pre-treatment blood samples and longitudinally during standard follow-up. Circulating tumor DNA status during follow-up was correlated to disease recurrence.

RESULTS:

Samples were taken from eight patients. Tumor mutations were verified in seven patients. Baseline circulating tumor DNA was positive in six patients. Recurrence occurred in four patients, two of whom had detectable circulating tumor DNA prior to recurrence.

CONCLUSION:

Circulating tumor DNA is a potential tool for disease and recurrence monitoring following curative therapy in head and neck cancer, allowing for better prognostication, and/or modification of treatment strategies.

KEYWORDS:

cancer biomarker; cancer diagnostics; cell-free DNA; circulating tumor DNA; liquid biopsy

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