Despite improvements in treatments for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), many patients develop recurrences. Therapeutic success requires that lymph node status is classified correctly. In patients with HNSCC where lymph nodes in the neck are clinically not involved in preoperative imaging (cN0), the choice of appropriate therapy remains intensely debated. Development of biomarkers to improve the accuracy of metastatic lymph node detection may lead to a reduction in unnecessary neck dissection, i.e. surgical removal of the lymph nodes draining the neck. We want to investigate whether circulating cell-free tumour DNA, isolated from the blood of patients with HNSCC, is predictive of lymph node status and may serve as decision aid in surgical treatment planning of the cN0 neck.
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