Non‐cannibalistic tumor cells of oral squamous cell carcinoma can express phagocytic markers

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Cellular cannibalism (CC) is an important morphologic feature to distinguish benign from malignant lesions. CC has been described previously in many malignant tumors and is correlated well with the aggressiveness, degree of anaplasia, invasiveness, and metastatic potential of the malignancy 1. We have reported CC in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) 2 as well as in giant cell granulomas 3 and giant cell tumors of long bones 4 in our previous papers.
Genetic markers implicated in CC are CD68, lysozyme, caveolin‐1, actin, ezrin, cathepsin‐B, nine transmembrane segment, vimentin, and Rho‐ROCK‐Actin/Myosin pathway 1. Genetic expression later manifests in the form of engulfment and digestion of adjacent cancer cells that are detectable on routine histopathology. CD68 and lysozyme makers are associated with degradation and digestion of the engulfed material. Our laboratory first reported their expression in cannibalistic tumor cells of OSCC 5 as well as in neutrophil tumor cell cannibalism 6. There can be a possibility of genotypic expression of such markers in the tumor cells without any phenotypic evidences of cannibalism on histopathological sections. With this view in mind, it was hypothesized that some non‐cannibalistic tumor cells of OSCC can express cannibalistic markers (CD68 and lysozyme).
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