Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the most common oral and pharyngeal cancer, and is responsible of approximately 3% of cancers in men and 2% in women in the Western World, with increasing incidence rates in developing countries. Early detection by screening is necessary to prevent fatal disease because early, curable lesions are rarely symptomatic. The overall 5-yr survival rate is approximately 50% when surgery, radiation, or both are employed as treatment options, but lymph node involvement greatly influences this estimate, by decreasing the survival rate by about 50%. Here, we aimed at finding genetic signatures associated with lymph node metastasis in OSCC patients. We addressed this issue by whole transcriptome analysis through microarray expression profiling of a set of OSSC specimens of patients without lymph node involvement (10 patients, mean age ± SD 61.2±13.8, male 7, female 3) and with lymph node involvement (11 patients, mean age ± SD 62.1±15.1, male 8, female 3). We evidenced a gene expression signature associated to muscle contraction-related genes in specimens obtained from OSCC patients with lymph node involvement. This gene signature suggests the presence of myofibroblasts in tumor stoma of patients with lymph node involvement and emphasizes the decisive role played by myofibroblasts probably through their secretome in determining OSCC invasiveness.
- Gene signature
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