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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1990 Oct 3;82(19):1566-72.

Altered antigen expression predicts outcome in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109.


Monoclonal antibody UM-A9 identifies an antigen found on the basal surface of epithelial cells and expressed on all of the squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) that we have tested. In a previous study, we showed that cell lines from metastatic or recurrent SCC exhibit stronger expression of the A9 cell membrane antigen than cell lines from the primary tumor of the same donors, suggesting that this marker is associated with tumor progression. Loss of expression in tumor tissue of normal A, B, and H (ABH) blood group antigens has also been linked to clinical behavior in some epithelial cancers. To determine the prognostic significance of these antigen markers, we prospectively evaluated tissue specimens for expression of these markers in a group of 82 consecutive, previously untreated patients with SCC of the head and neck. Three patterns corresponding to strong (pattern 1), intermediate (pattern 2), or weak (pattern 3) A9 antigen expression were observed. Fifty-eight percent of the patients whose tumors had pattern 1 A9 antigen expression and 78% of the patients with loss of blood group antigen had early relapse, compared with only 34% of those with A9 antigen pattern 2 or 3 (P = .042) and 37% of those whose tumors expressed the mature ABH blood group antigen (P = .012). The combination of A9 pattern and ABH blood group antigen expression in tumor tissue was the variable most strongly associated with duration of disease-free survival, even after adjustment for the traditional prognostic factors of tumor site, stage, and TNM classification. Loss of blood group was the most significant single variable associated with early recurrence, but among patients whose tumors retained ABH blood group antigen expression, the A9 pattern distinguished good and poor prognostic groups. To our knowledge, our study is the first to demonstrate that differences in blood group antigen expression are significantly correlated with disease-free survival in SCC of the head and neck. We have initiated a study (a) to determine the relationship of the A9 antigen and the blood group antigens with clinical response of the tumors and (b) to determine whether these markers should be used as prognostic indicators.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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