Purpose: Esophageal carcinoma is a challenging target for radiotherapy. To improve treatment efficacy, an investigation of a predictive factor is desirable. In this study, we evaluated the significance of apoptosis and immunohistochemical staining for p53, Ki-67, c-erbB-2 (HER-2/neu), Ku (p70/p80), and DNA-PKcs for predictive markers of the responsiveness to chemoradiotherapy in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Materials and methods: This retrospective analysis consisted of 34 patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in whom tumor biopsy was performed before treatment. They were divided into chemoradiosensitive (n = 13) and chemoradioresistant (n = 21) groups according to the tumor response evaluated at a total radiation dose of 40 Gy. The biopsy samples were examined with immunohistochemical staining for various factors and with an in situ nick end labeling method for apoptosis. The examined data were compared between the two groups.
Results: The difference in the Ki-67, p53, Ku (p70/p80), DNA-PKcs labeling indexes and the apoptosis index in tumor cells between the chemoradiosensitive and chemoradioresistant groups was not statistically significant. The expression of c-erbB-2 oncoprotein was statistically significant in the chemoradioresistant group (p = 0.02), although it did not correlate with survival.
Conclusions: c-erbB-2 immunostaining is useful for the prediction of chemoradioresistance in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.