The discovery of kinase domain mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor gene (EGFR) in never-smoker patients, associated with an increased sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as gefitinib or erlotinib, has been one of the most relevant findings ever in non-small cell lung carcinomas (NSCLC). Since treatment with TKIs has furthermore shown a clinical benefit in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients, we hypothesized that these mutations could also be present in this neoplasia. Current studies looking for EGFR mutations in HNSCC are limited and results are still controversial. In this work, we screened for EGFR tyrosine kinase mutations in tumour DNA obtained from 31 Spanish patients with HNSCC by PCR-single-strand conformational polymorphism analysis. None of the patients displayed a somatic EGFR mutation, previously described in NSCLC, but other DNA sequence variations were found in 9 of 31 HNSCC patients. Accordingly, activating EGFR mutations in HNSCC patients seem to be a rare event in Spanish patients, suggesting that there is little room for the administration of TKIs in HNSCC based on the presence of these mutations. Additional investigations about EGFR amplification are indicated to establish a potential relationship between EGFR overexpression and the response to anti-EGFR therapies.
Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.