Background: This study was designed to determine the prognostic value of immunohistochemical tumor marker expression in a population of patients with node-negative esophageal cancer treated with complete resection alone.
Methods: Resection specimens were collected from 61 patients with node-negative T1 (n = 31), T2 (n = 14), and T3 (n = 16) esophageal cancer. A panel of 10 tumor markers was chosen for immunohistochemical analysis, based on associations with differing oncologic mechanisms: apoptosis (p53), growth regulation (transforming growth factor-alpha, epidermal growth factor receptor, and Her2-neu), angiogenesis (factor VIII), metastatic potential (CD44), platinum resistance (p-glycoprotein and metallothionein), 5-fluorouracil resistance (thymidylate synthetase), and carcinogenic detoxification (glutathione S-transferase-pi).
Results: Complete resection was performed in all patients (44 adenocarcinoma, 17 squamous cell carcinoma), with no operative deaths. Multivariable analysis demonstrated a significant relationship between cancer-specific death and the following variables: low-level P-gp expression (p = 0.004), high-level expression of p53 (p = 0.04), and low-level expression of transforming growth factor-alpha (p = 0.03). In addition, the number of involved tumor markers present was strongly predictive of negative outcome (p = 0.0001).
Conclusions: This study supports the prognostic value of immunohistochemical tumor markers, specifically the expression pattern of P-gp, p53, and transforming growth factor-alpha, in patients with esophageal carcinoma treated with complete resection alone.