TNF-α evaluation in tonsil cancer

Rom J Morphol Embryol. 2015;56(1):101-6.


Squamous cell tonsil carcinoma is the most frequent form of oropharyngeal cancer, representing 70-80% of the total of head and neck malignant tumors. Poor clinical symptoms make that 60-80% of patients with squamous cell tonsil carcinoma have a late diagnosis, in the third and fourth stages, when the tumor exceeds the organ limits, invading the pharyngeal wall or the tongue base, being associated with metastases in the laterocervical lymphatic ganglions. The tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) represents an important inflammation mediator associated to carcinogenesis and even to tumor progression. We evaluated the seric values of TNF-α in a group of patients with tonsil cancer in comparison to a group of patients with chronic tonsillitis, as well as the reaction of mastocytes and macrophages in the two types of tonsil lesions. Seric levels of TNF-α in squamous cell tonsil carcinoma were quite high, varying from 1000 to 2000 pg÷mL, and in four patients, with poorly differentiated tonsil carcinoma in the fourth stage, the TNF-α values varied from 2000 to 4000 pg÷mL. In the patients undergoing radiotherapy, the TNF-α seric levels were within normal limits. In chronic tonsillitis, the TNF-α seric level varied from 10 to 200 pg÷mL. There were not observed any significant differences between the two types of tonsil lesions, regarding the macrophages and mast cells density on the surface unit.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx / pathology
  • Tonsillar Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Tonsillitis / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*


  • TNF protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha