Biomarkers predicting treatment response to the monoclonal antibody cetuximab in locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (LAHNSCC) are lacking. We hypothesize that tumor accessibility is an important factor in treatment success of the EGFR targeting drug. We quantified uptake of cetuximab labeled with Zirconium-89 (89Zr) using PET/CT imaging.Seventeen patients with stage III-IV LAHNSCC received a loading dose unlabeled cetuximab, followed by 10 mg 54.5±9.6 MBq 89Zr-cetuximab. PET/CT images were acquired either 3 and 6 or 4 and 7 days post-injection. 89Zr-cetuximab uptake was quantified using standardized uptake value (SUV) and tumor-to-background ratio (TBR), and correlated to EGFR immunohistochemistry. TBR was compared between scan days to determine optimal timing.Uptake of 89Zr-cetuximab varied between patients (day 6-7: SUVpeak range 2.5-6.2). TBR increased significantly (49±28%, p < 0.01) between first (1.1±0.3) and second scan (1.7±0.6). Between groups with a low and high EGFR expression a significant difference in SUVmean (2.1 versus 3.0) and SUVpeak (3.2 versus 4.7) was found, however, not in TBR. Data is available at www.cancerdata.org (DOI: 10.17195/candat.2016.11.1).In conclusion, 89Zr-cetuximab PET imaging shows large inter-patient variety in LAHNSCC and provides additional information over FDG-PET and EGFR expression. Validation of the predictive value is recommended with scans acquired 6-7 days post-injection.

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Authors: Even AJ, Hamming-Vrieze O, van Elmpt W, Winnepenninckx VJ, Heukelom J, Tesselaar ME, Vogel WV, Hoeben A, Zegers CM, Vugts DJ, van Dongen GA, Bartelink H, Mottaghy FM, Hoebers F, Lambin P.
Publication Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2017