Aims: C-erbB-2, an oncogene, is member of the growth factor receptor family. Its role in activation of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma is poorly understood. The aim of this study was to evaluate the part played by c-erbB-2 in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in Hong Kong Chinese patients.
Methods: We examined the expression of the c-erbB-2 oncoprotein in 104 oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas from 89 men and 15 women, ranging in age from 41 to 89 years (mean 63). C-ercB-2 expression was studied with monoclonal antibody, using an antigen retrieval method.
Results: Focal c-erbB-2 membrane staining was present in 10 (10%) of 104 squamous cell carcinomas. Staining was also noted in the adjacent dysplastic epithelium (n=2) and non-tumour inflamed epithelium (n=2). In carcinomas, the c-erbB-2 membrane staining was identified only in superficial well-differentiated tumour cells and the expression did not predict biological behaviour.
Conclusions: We conclude that the c-erbB-2 oncoprotein is expressed in a portion of oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas and precursor lesions. This suggests that c-erbB-2 activation plays a certain role, mostly probably during the early stages, in carcinogenesis in oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas from Hong Kong Chinese patients.