Serum biomarkers for detection of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Wojciech K. Mydlarz, Patrick T. Hennessey, Hao Wang, Andre Lopez Carvalho, Joseph A. Califano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background Detection of hypermethylated circulating tumor DNA has the potential to be a minimally invasive, low cost, and reproducible method for cancer detection. Methods We evaluated serum from 100 patients with known head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and 50 healthy control patients for 3 previously described methylation targets, endothelin receptor type B (EDNRB), cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A or p16), and deleted in colorectal carcinoma (DCC), using quantitative methylation specific polymerase chain reaction (qMSPCR). Results EDNRB hypermethylation was identified in the serum of 10% of the patients with HNSCC but in none of the control patients. DCC hypermethylation was detected in 2 serum samples from patients with cancer that also amplified EDNRB and one of these samples also had p16 hypermethylation. EDNRB hypermethylation was statistically significant by Fisher's exact test (p =.03) when comparing HNSCC to controls. Conclusions Serum EDNRB hypermethylation is a highly specific but not sensitive serum biomarker for HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • epigenetics
  • head and neck cancer
  • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)
  • hypermethylation
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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