Background: For patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, both locoregional and distant recurrences are common, and an appropriate adjuvant treatment modality has yet to be defined. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify novel molecular markers with potential prognostic and/or predictive value to improve treatment outcome in these patients. This retrospective study was designed to investigate the predictive and/or prognostic value of STAT1 activation in squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity.
Methods: STAT1 expression and subcellular localization was examined immunohistochemically on a tissue microarray of paraffin-embedded tumor specimens from 89 patients who underwent surgical treatment in the period between 1980 and 1997. A nuclear staining score of greater than 35% was defined as high STAT1 activation.
Results: According to study criteria, 18% of analyzed tumor samples exhibited high STAT1 activation. High STAT1 activation was associated with negative lymph node status. Moreover, in the subgroup of patients who received chemotherapy, high nuclear STAT1 staining in the tumor was associated with good prognosis.
Conclusions: This is the first report demonstrating the potential predictive value of STAT1 activation status in patients with squamous cell cancer of the oral cavity. If confirmed in large prospective trials, this molecular marker could help in guiding therapeutic decisions in these patients.