The treatment strategies for T1 esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) patients with or without lymph node metastasis (LNM) are different. Given the advantages of the minimally invasive, sensitive and real-time detection, liquid biopsy has become an important cancer diagnostic and prognostic tool.
MiRNA array and small RNA sequencing were performed. Then, 222 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tumour samples and 229 pretreatment serum samples from T1 ESCC patients were used to verify and evaluate the results.
We demonstrated that serum miR-20b-5p could predict LNM in T1 ESCC patients. The AUC for serum miR-20b-5p was higher (0.827) than those for lymphovascular invasion (LVI) (0.751, P=0.2128), invasion depth (0.662, P=0.0027) and tumour differentiation grade (0.634, P=0.0019). A nomogram for predicting LNM with three independent significant predictors (miR-20b-5p, LVI and invasion depth) was constructed with a concordance index of 0.931. Serum miR-20b-5p was also significantly correlated with disease-free survival (P<0.001). An algorithm of improved T1 ESCC treatment strategy after biopsy and/or after endoscopic resection based on serum miR-20b-5p level was constructed.
This study suggests that serum miR-20b-5p is a potential biomarker for predicting LNM and can be helpful for precise clinical decision-making strategies and improve treatment outcomes for T1 ESCC patients.
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