Heparanase expression in nasopharyngeal carcinoma inversely correlates with patient survival

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To determine the expression and prognostic significance of heparanase in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC).


Immunohistochemistry was performed on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded sections of 46 patients with NPC. Clinical and immunohistochemical data were correlated with gender, age, histological type, Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) status, stage and survival.


Heparanase immunoreactivity was found in 35% (16/46) of specimens. The cumulative survival of patients diagnosed as heparanase negative (n = 30) at 10 years was 70%. In contrast, the cumulative survival of patients diagnosed as heparanase positive (n = 16) at 10 years was 25%, differences that are highly statistically significant (P = 0.03). No significant correlations were found between heparanase immunoreactivity and gender, age, EBV status, tumour histology or tumour stage.


Heparanase expression is inversely correlated with survival of NPC patients, clearly indicating that heparanase is a reliable prognostic factor for this malignancy, and further supports the notion that heparanase is a valid target for the development of anti-cancer drugs.

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