Notch1 Overexpression Correlates to Improved Survival in Cancer of the Oropharynx

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Abstract

Objectives

The Notch1 signaling pathway has recently been shown to be highly dysregulated in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, but the value of Notch1 as a predictive biomarker is yet to be elucidated in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). The objective of this study is to evaluate Notch1 expression in surgical OPSCC specimens and determine clinicopathologic correlates.

Study Design

Case series with planned data collection.

Setting

Tertiary academic medical center.

Subjects and Methods

Surgical specimens from 181 patients with OPSCC were collected to create a tissue microarray (TMA). Human papillomavirus (HPV) status and Notch1 expression were determined and correlated with clinicopathologic characteristics.

Results

In univariate analysis, Notch1 expression correlated with improved survival as a categorical variable (hazard ratio [HR], 0.346; P < .0001) and correlated with HPV/p16 positivity as a continuous variable (P < .0001). In multivariate analysis, Notch1 expression retained significance in HPV-positive (HR, 0.303; P = .033) and HPV-negative (HR, 0.416; P = .0055) subgroups. Similarly, Notch1 expression positively correlated with survival in p16-positive (HR, 0.469; P = .031) and p16-negative subgroups (HR, 0.310; P = .014).

Conclusions

In the largest OPSCC cohort to date, we found that Notch1 receptor expression positively correlates with overall survival, regardless of HPV or p16 status. Furthermore, we found higher Notch1 receptor expression in HPV/p16-positive tumors than their HPV/p16-negative counterparts.

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