Circulating tumour cells predict recurrences and survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients

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Zhang, Xi
Weeramange, Chameera Ekanayake
Hughes, Brett GM
Vasani, Sarju
Liu, Zhen Yu
Warkiani, Majid
Hartel, Gunter
Ladwa, Rahul
Thiery, Jean Paul
Kenny, Liz
Breik, Omar
Punyadeera, Chamindie
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Patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are at a high risk of developing recurrence and secondary cancers. This study evaluates the prognostic and surveillance utilities of circulating tumour cells (CTCs) in HNSCC. A total of 154 HNSCC patients were recruited and followed up for 4.5 years. Blood samples were collected at baseline and follow-up. CTCs were isolated using a spiral microfluid device. Recurrence and death due to cancer were assessed during the follow-up period. In patients with HNSCC, the presence of CTCs at baseline was a predictor of recurrence (OR = 8.40, p < 0.0001) and death (OR= ∞, p < 0.0001). Patients with CTCs at baseline had poor survival outcomes (p < 0.0001). Additionally, our study found that patients with CTCs in a follow-up appointment were 2.5 times more likely to experience recurrence or death from HNSCC (p < 0.05) prior to their next clinical visit. Our study highlights the prognostic and monitoring utilities of CTCs' in HNSCC patients. Early identification of CTCs facilitates precise risk assessment, guiding treatment choices and ultimately enhancing patient outcomes.

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Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

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© The Author(s) 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

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Zhang, X; Weeramange, CE; Hughes, BGM; Vasani, S; Liu, ZY; Warkiani, M; Hartel, G; Ladwa, R; Thiery, JP; Kenny, L; Breik, O; Punyadeera, C, Circulating tumour cells predict recurrences and survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 2024, 81 (1), pp. 233