Correlation of tumor markers p53, bcl-2 and cathepsin-D with clinicopathologic features and disease-free survival in laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma

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Various recognized prognostic factors in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the larynx influence the therapeutic options offered to an individual patient in order to extend the survival expectancy. Additional prognostic indicators are required in specific patient subgroups. The present study used a standard immunohistochemical technique in order to retrospectively evaluate the accumulation of p53 gene product and the immunoreactivity of bcl-2 protein and cathepsin-D as possible prognostic markers of laryngeal SCC. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor materials were obtained from a series of 64 patients with cancer of the larynx. Immunostaining was evaluated by computerized image analysis. The accumulation of p53 protein was found in 57.8% (37/64) of the patients and was associated with large tumor size. The percentage of p53-positive neoplastic cells increased in high-grade carcinomas, particularly when they simultaneously demonstrated cathepsin-D immunoreaction in stromal cells (P = 0.049); bcl-2 immunoexpression was found to be generally limited. Cathepsin-D immunostaining was observed in tumor parenchymal and stromal cells (31.25% and 37.5% of all cases, respectively); it was found to be useful in defining patient subgroups with differences in relapse-free survival. Among patients with positive lymph nodes, those with cathepsin-D immunopositive tumor cells were at higher risk for relapsing (P = 0.0395). Although the classical prognostic factors of laryngeal carcinoma retain their predominance, cathepsin-D immunoreactivity may serve as an additional prognosticator in specific patient subgroups.

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