Circulating tumor cell analysis in locally advanced and metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Ethan J. Harris, Julian Huang, Erin Carroll, Alarice C. Lowe, Nicole G. Chau, Guilherme Rabinowits, Robert Haddad, Glenn J. Hanna, Tyler Haddad, Matthew Sanborn, Alec Kacew, Jochen Lorch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Circulating tumors cells (CTCs) are considered an early step towards metastasis and have been linked to poor prognosis in several types of cancer. CTCs in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) have an unclear role. Methods: In this prospective study, patients with locally advanced or metastatic SCCHN had CTC counts assessed before starting systemic treatment using the CellSearch System. Select cases also had sequential CTC evaluation. Presence of CTCs was correlated with patient characteristics and outcomes. Results: Forty-eight patients enrolled, and 36 had evaluable clinical data and baseline CTC counts. Twenty-five patients had locally advanced disease (LAD) and 11 had metastatic disease. ≥1 CTCs were detected in six patients with LAD (24%) and four with metastatic disease (36%). On univariate analysis, smoking was associated with CTCs. Conclusion: CTCs are not associated with prognosis in patients with LAD and metastatic disease; however, they are present in this patient population, and ≥1 CTCs is associated with a history of smoking. Level of evidence: 1b; individual prospective cohort study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1063-1069
Number of pages7
JournalLaryngoscope investigative otolaryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • circulating tumor cells
  • head and neck cancer
  • smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


Dive into the research topics of 'Circulating tumor cell analysis in locally advanced and metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this