Patients with high c-MYC-expressing squamous cell carcinomas of the tongue show better survival than those with low- and medium-expressing tumours

J Oral Pathol Med. 2017 Nov;46(10):967-971. doi: 10.1111/jop.12579. Epub 2017 May 9.


Background: c-MYC is a potent oncoprotein with roles in a wide range of cellular processes such as differentiation, apoptosis and growth control. Deregulation of the MYC gene is commonly seen in human tumours resulting in overexpression of the protein. Here we studied expression of c-MYC in correlation to clinical outcome in patients with primary squamous cell carcinoma of the mobile tongue.

Methods: Immunohistochemistry was used to identify c-MYC in a group of 104 tongue squamous cell carcinomas with an antibody directed against the N-terminal part of the protein. Staining was evaluated by multiplying the percentage of c-MYC-expressing cells with staining intensity, giving a quick score for each tumour.

Results: All 104 tumours expressed c-MYC at varying levels. Quantitation according to per cent of positive cells and staining intensity revealed that most (15/21; 71%) high-expressing tumours were seen in males. Within the group of high c-MYC-expressing tumours, the majority were alive 2 and 5 years after treatment.

Conclusions: The present findings show that expression of c-MYC has prognostic value in squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue, and could be useful in choice of therapy.

Keywords: c-MYC; radiotherapy; squamous cell carcinoma; tongue.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / genetics*
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck
  • Survival Rate
  • Tongue Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Tongue Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Tongue Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Young Adult


  • MYC protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc