Objective: Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) has experienced a renaissance lately as a binding site for targeted therapy as well as a prognostic marker in epithelial malignancies. Aim of this study was to study EpCAM as a potential prognostic marker in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).
Methods: EpCAM expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry on paraffin-embedded primary EOC-tissue samples. EpCAM overexpression was defined as an expression of EpCAM of 76% to 100%. Tissue samples and clinical data were systematically collected within the international and multicenter "Tumorbank Ovarian Cancer" network.
Results: Seventy-four patients, diagnosed with EOC between 1994 and 2009, were included in the study (median age, 56 years; range, 31 to 86 years). The majority of the patients (81.1%) presented with an advanced stage International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) III/IV disease. Histology was of the serous type in 41 patients (55.4%), endometrioid in 19 (25.6%), and mucinous in 14 (19%). EpCAM was overexpressed in 87.7%. Serous tumors overexpressed EpCAM significantly more often than mucinous tumors (87.8% vs. 78.6%, p=0.045); while no significant difference was noted between the other histological subgroups. EpCAM overexpression was significantly associated with a better progression free survival and higher response rates to platinum based chemotherapy (p=0.040 and p=0.048, respectively). EpCAM was identified as an independent prognostic marker for overall survival (p=0.022).
Conclusion: Our data indicate a significant association of EpCAM overexpression with a more favorable survival in EOC-patients. Serous cancers showed a significant EpCAM overexpression compared to mucinous types. Larger multicenter analyses are warranted to confirm these findings.
Keywords: Epithelial cell adhesion molecule; Ovarian neoplasms; Survival.