EGFR is an extensively studied biomarker in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In this review, we discuss the prognostic and predictive role of EGFR in HNSCC, focusing on the different molecular alterations in specific treatment modalities such as radiotherapy alone (RT), combination of surgery, RT and chemotherapy (CT), EGFR inhibitors. We considered EGFR at different molecular levels: protein expression, protein activation, gene copy number, polymorphisms, mutation, EGFRvIII expression and EGFR ligand expression. Considering RT alone, evidence supports the predictive and prognostic role of high EGFR expression only when evaluated by quantitative assays: this may help select the patients who can mostly benefit from accelerated treatment. Conversely, no predictive biomarkers are available when treatment is a combination of surgery, CT and RT. For this combined treatment, several studies indicate that EGFR expression represents a good prognostic parameter only when measured by a "quantitative" or at least semi-quantitative method. With respect to EGFR inhibitors, neither EGFR expression nor increased gene copy number represent prognostic/predictive factors. If validated, nuclear EGFR, TGFα levels, EGFR phopshorylation and polymorphisms could represent additional prognostic factors in relation to combination of surgery, CT and RT, while EGFR polymorphisms and high amphiregulin levels could have prognostic value in patients treated with EGFR inhibitors.
- Head and neck squamous cell cancer
- Predictive factors
- Prognostic factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas