A comparative study of the clinicopathological significance of E-cadherin and catenins (α, β, γ) expression in the surgical management of oral tongue carcinoma
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Purpose: E-cadherin and catenins are important epithelial adhesion molecules in normal epithelium. Loss of E-cadherin-catenin adhesion is an important step in the progression of many epithelial cancers. E-cadherin and catenins expression in carcinoma of the tongue were evaluated in relation to their clinicopathological features and prognostic values. Method: Immunohistochemical staining was carried out with E-cadherin and (!, #, %)-catenin monoclonal antibodies for 85 surgical specimens of oral tongue carcinoma, nine matched metastatic lymph nodes, and seven locally recurrent tumours. Results: There was under-expression in 85% of E-cadherin, 94% of !-catenin, 89% of #-catenin, and 83% of %-catenin in the primary tumours. There was no correlation of E-cadherin/catenin expression with sex, age, cancer stage, and differentiation. Nodal metastasis was found in 68% of patients with weak expression of %-catenin compared with 9% with strong expression in primary tumours (chi-square, P=0.02). E-cadherin was a significant prognostic factor for survival and recurrence; patients with weak E-cadherin expression had 53% 5-year survival compared with 85% with strong expression (Wilcoxon, P=0.0159). Conclusions: Both E-cadherin and catenins were highly under-expressed in oral tongue carcinoma, metastatic lymph node, and recurrent tumour. %-catenin had predictive value for nodal metastasis. E-cadherin was, however, a more important prognostic factor for recurrence and survival.
Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology