Conclusions: Survivin expression should be studied as a potential hallmark of higher risk oral, oropharyngeal and laryngeal squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) to develop loco-regional recurrences. These outcomes could have a significant impact on both the treatment modalities and the intensity of post-treatment follow-up. Further investigation is necessary before considering elective neck dissection in patients with laryngeal SCC with high survivin expression.
Objectives: Functioning simultaneously at cell division and apoptosis inhibition, survivin, a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis proteins family, plays a pivotal role in determining cell survival. Significant over-expression of survivin has been demonstrated in most human malignancies and correlated with more aggressive forms. This review focuses on the attempts to translate survivin biologic properties toward both a diagnostic/prognostic tool and a novel therapeutic target in head and neck SCC (HNSCC).
Materials and methods: An exhaustive review of literature was performed to investigate available evidence about survivin expression, biological role and therapeutic potential in HNSCC.
Results: Multiple evidence indicates that, in HNSCC cell lines, survivin inhibition by gene therapy and by small molecule inhibitors significantly increases the anti-tumour activity of several cytotoxic and other targeted therapies.