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J Dent Res. 2003 Nov;82(11):923-8.

Survivin, a potential early predictor of tumor progression in the oral mucosa.

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Institute of Dental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ancona, Ancona, Italy.


Survivin is a recently described apoptosis inhibitor selectively over-expressed in most tumors. Immunohistochemistry was used to investigate a potential role of survivin as an early predictor of malignant transformation in precancerous and cancerous lesions of the oral cavity. Survivin was present in 10/30 cases (33%) of oral precancerous lesions without malignant progression, and in 15/16 cases (94%) of oral precancerous lesions evolved into full-blown squamous cell carcinoma. Tumors that progressed from these precancerous lesions retained widespread survivin positivity (100%). Variations among group means were highly statistically significant (p < 0.001). No significant correlation was found between survivin expression and the degree of dysplasia. High expression of cytoplasmic/nuclear survivin is an early event during oral carcinogenesis and may provide a useful tool for the identification of precancerous lesions at higher risk of progression into invasive carcinoma.

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