OBJECTIVES: Strong expression of survivin is associated with worse survival in many different tumours, and in cell culture, a correlation between radiation resistance and survivin expression can be seen. The potential of survivin expression as a prognostic/predictive marker or therapeutic target has not been examined in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) yet.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Retrospective study of 452 tissue samples and clinical data from patients with squamous cell carcinomas of the larynx/hypopharynx (LSCC), oral cavity (OSCC) and oropharynx (OPSCC) treated in the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf between 2002 and 2006. The expression patterns were detected by tissue microarray technique and correlated with clinical parameters (sex, age, tumour location, TNM 7th edition, grading, recurrence-free and overall survival).
RESULTS: 222 OSCC, 126 OPSCC and 105 LSCC tumours of 118 females and 335 males with a mean follow-up of 41.3 months were examined. Survivin expression correlates with pN, cM, pT and overall survival.
CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The potential of survivin as a prognostic/predictive marker is very high. The findings have to be confirmed in a larger cohort of HNSCC esp. in those tumours treated primarily with radio/radiochemotherapy.