Background: Molecular markers can be used to identify tumour at the surgical margins of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and assist in evaluating complete resection of the tumour. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prognostic significance of molecular markers at the tumour free surgical margins of HNSCC patients in the Northern Territory.
Methods: This is a retrospective study and 48 HNSCC patients met inclusion criteria. On the based on hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining, 24 patients showed positive margins and 24 showed negative margins respectively. We have selected 24 patients with negative margins for further analysis with immunohistochemical staining (IHC). A total of 77 surgical margins were obtained from 24 patients and subsequently analysed by IHC staining with monoclonal mouse p53 and polyclonal rabbit eIF4E antibodies. Contingency tables and Fisher’s exact tests were used to investigate the association of p53 and eIF4E expression with clinical outcomes (recurrence and overall survival) for HNSCC patients.
Results: The expression of p53 and eIF4E was 54.2% and 87.5% respectively in the surgical margins of HNSCC patients. Three out of seven cancer recurrent patients (42.8%) were identified with p53 positive margins and significantly six (85.7%) patients had recurrence with eIF4E positive margins. There was no statistically significant difference identified for recurrence risk between p53 and eIF4E overexpression in the surgical margins (P = 0.88, P = 0.99 respectively).
Conclusions: The molecular marker eIF4E appears to be a stronger prognosticator than p53 because overexpression of eIF4E was found in the margins of six out of seven patients with local recurrence.