Oral Oncol 2017 12 23;75:8-15. Epub 2017 Oct 23.
Department of Pathology, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address:
Liquid biopsy is a minimally invasive detection method for molecular biomarkers in body fluids which may serve as a novel tool in management of head and neck cancer. The purpose of this systematic review is to outline the current status of liquid biopsy in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients by systematically identifying and qualifying all published studies on the diagnostic or prognostic value of cell-free nucleic acids detection for posttreatment disease monitoring and/or disease outcome. A search was performed in PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library. Thirty articles met the inclusion criteria for further analysis. Study and patient characteristics, molecular analysis method and treatment or prognostic outcomes were extracted. Seventeen studies investigated circulating miRNAs in blood. Of these studies, 16 found statistically significant results for a total of 24 different candidate miRNAs for prognostication or treatment monitoring. The remaining studies investigated circulating tumor DNA by targeting somatic mutations, allelic imbalances, hypermethylation, or HPV-DNA. Of these studies, 2 found a statistically significant association between nucleic acid levels (tumor DNA targeted by allelic imbalances and HPV-DNA) in blood and/or saliva and prognostic outcome. One study found significantly different pre- and posttreatment levels of mitochondrial DNA in serum. Despite large differences among these studies in both design and results, individual results are promising and provide ground for more large-scale studies with standardized serial assessment of patient samples in the future.