BACKGROUND: Extracapsular spread (ECS) in cervical lymph nodes is the single-most prognostic clinical variable in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), but diagnosis is possible only after histopathological examination. A promising biomarker in the primary tumour, alpha smooth muscle actin (SMA) has been shown to be highly prognostic, however, validated biomarkers to predict ECS prior to primary treatment are not yet available.
METHODS: In 102 OSCC cases, conventional imaging was compared with pTNM staging. SERPINE1, identified from expression microarray of primary tumours as a potential biomarker for ECS, was validated through mRNA expression, and by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on a tissue microarray from the same cohort. Similarly, expression of SMA was also compared with its association with ECS and survival. Expression was analysed separately in the tumour centre and advancing front; and prognostic capability determined using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis.
RESULTS: Immunohistochemistry indicated that both SERPINE1 and SMA expression at the tumour-advancing front were significantly associated with ECS (P<0.001). ECS was associated with expression of either or both proteins in all cases. SMA+/SERPINE1+ expression in combination was highly significantly associated with poor survival (P<0.001). MRI showed poor sensitivity for detection of nodal metastasis (56%) and ECS (7%). Both separately, and in combination, SERPINE1 and SMA were superior to MRI for the detection of ECS (sensitivity: SERPINE1: 95%; SMA: 82%; combination: 81%).
CONCLUSION: A combination of SMA and SERPINE1 IHC offer potential as prognostic biomarkers in OSCC. Our findings suggest that biomarkers at the invasive front are likely to be necessary in prediction of ECS or in therapeutic stratification.
- Aged, 80 and over
- Biomarkers, Tumor/analysis
- Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/mortality
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Middle Aged
- Mouth Neoplasms/mortality
- Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1/analysis