Biological indicators of survival in patients treated by surgery for squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity and oropharynx

S. Veneroni, R. Silvestrini, A. Costa, P. Salvatori, A. Faranda, R. Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck are a heterogeneous group of tumours with regard to anatomical site, natural history and response to various treatments. Assessment of the role of bio- markers as indicators of prognosis or response to treatment is thus complex. In the last decade, different biomarkers have been investigated in the search for objective and reproducible indicators of prognosis. In 69 squamous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity or oropharynx from patients treated with radical surgery alone, we determined cell kinetics, evaluated as in vitro 3H-thymidine labelling index (TLI), p53, bcl-2 and glutathione S-transferase π (GSTπ) expression, by using immunohistochemical methods. The biological variables were unrelated to one another or to established clinical and pathological prognostic factors. Univariate analysis showed that a low proliferative activity was associated to a significantly higher risk of death than that observed in patients with a high TLI, whereas p53, bcl-2 and GSTπ expression did not provide prognostic information. Multivariate analysis showed that cell proliferation, gender and nodal status retained their clinical relevance. In the subset of node-negative patients, TLI and p53 expression were indicators of survival. Moreover, the combined analysis of TLI and p53 expression identified a subgroup of node-negative patients with slowly proliferating and highly p53-expressing tumours who died within 1 year of radical surgery. These results indicate that in patients with operable oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer, biomarkers can provide important information on clinical outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-413
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Biomarkers
  • Oral and oropharyngeal cancer
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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