The diagnostic value of 99mTc-labeled monoclonal antibody E48 F(ab′)2 (750 MBq, 1 mg) was evaluated in 10 patients with a histologically proven squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck and with clinical evidence of cervical lymph node involvement.

Preoperative findings on lymph node status obtained by radioimmunoscintigraphy (RIS), computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and palpation were defined per side (left and/or right side of the neck) as well as per lymph node level (I through V) and compared with the histopathological outcome of the neck dissection specimen.

In 10 patients, all 8 known tumors at the primary site were detected by RIS. Furthermore, RIS was correct in 13 of 13 tumor involved neck sides and in 17 of 20 tumor involved lymph node levels. False-negative observations comprised 3 levels containing tumor deposits smaller than 1 cm in diameter, 2 of which were not detected by any other diagnostic modality. Palpation, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging were correct in, respectively, 13, 15, and 15 of the 20 tumor involved levels. There were 2 false-positive observations with monoclonal antibody E48 and 3 with palpation. No false-positive detections occurred with computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging.

In two of the patients, RIS provided clinically important information which was not provided by any other diagnostic method. In one patient, recurrence of laryngeal carcinoma was established at the primary site after previous radiotherapy. In another patient, bilateral instead of unilateral lymph node involvement became apparent.

These preliminary data indicate that radioimmunoscintigraphy with monoclonal antibody E48 may be helpful in the diagnosis of metastatic and recurrent head and neck cancer.


Supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and by Centocor Europe, Inc., Leiden, the Netherlands.

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