Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma has an overall 5-year survival of less than 5%. Similarly, pancreatic cancer has a mortality: incidence ratio of 0.99. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of HER-2/neu and c-kit (CD117) overexpression and to identify a possible predictive role in patients with these two malignancies.
Materials and methods: We performed a retrospective study on archival specimens of subjects with hepatocellular and pancreatic carcinoma. HER-2/neu and CD117 overexpression were evaluated by immunohistochemistry.
Results: Thirty-three patients with pancreatic carcinoma and 25 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma were identified. The mean age was 71.7 years for patients with pancreatic carcinoma and 66 years for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Two patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and none with pancreatic cancer overexpressed HER-2/neu, while 2 patients with pancreatic carcinoma and 1 patient with hepatocellular carcinoma overexpressed CD117.
Conclusion: HER-2/neu and CD117 are not significantly overexpressed in either cancer. There appears to be no role for the use of trastuzumab in either malignancy. Similarly, while there appears to be no role for tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, further larger studies are necessary in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.