Loss of PTEN expression as a prognostic marker for tongue cancer

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001 Dec;127(12):1441-5. doi: 10.1001/archotol.127.12.1441.


Background: Abnormalities of PTEN, a candidate tumor suppressor gene located at 10q23.3, play an important role in the tumorigenesis of multiple tumor types.

Objectives: To investigate the expression of PTEN and its clinical implication in squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue.

Design: Retrospective analysis of PTEN protein expression in archived primary oral tongue tumor samples.

Setting: Academic center.

Patients and methods: PTEN expression was determined by immunohistochemical analysis in tissue samples from 41 patients with stage II, III, and IV squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. All the patients underwent curative surgical treatment with a median follow-up of 81 months. The Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival analysis. Multivariate analysis was performed according to the Cox proportional hazards model.

Results: Lack of staining for PTEN was demonstrated in 12 (29%) of the 41 tumors. Patients whose tumors lacked PTEN expression had a significantly shorter overall survival time (P = .03) and event-free survival time (P = .01) than those patients with positive PTEN expression. Multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that PTEN expression is an independent predictor of poor outcome when compared with tumor stage and nodal status.

Conclusions: Although genetic alterations of the PTEN gene are rare in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, loss of PTEN is not an uncommon event in squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue. Lack of PTEN expression may be an independent prognostic indicator for clinical outcome in patients with this tumor type.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Female
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases / genetics*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Tongue Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Tongue Neoplasms / genetics
  • Tongue Neoplasms / mortality
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Phosphoric Monoester Hydrolases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human