Prognostic relevance of molecular markers of oral cancer—a review

H Schliephake
International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 2003, 32 (3): 233-45
The aim of the present article was to review the current knowledge on the prognostic value of tumour marker in the treatment of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). The literature of the past 5 years (1997-August 2002) was screened. One hundred and sixty-nine articles were included in this review, twenty-nine molecular markers of relevance were identified. Tumour markers were allocated to four groups according to their function: (i) Enhancement of Tumour Growth: Cell cycle acceleration and proliferation, (ii) Tumour Suppression and Anti-Tumour Defence: Immune response and apoptosis, (iii) Angiogenesis, (iv) Tumour Invasion and Metastatic Potential: Adhesion molecules and matrix degradation. Data showed that the prognostic relevance of most tumour markers is still not quite clear. Only 12 of 23 reports on the prognostic relevance of markers for cell cycle acceleration and proliferation indicated a significant association with prognosis while 20 of 29 studies on markers for tumour suppression and anti-tumour response showed prognostic relevance. Markers of angiogenesis exhibited only minor importance for the prognosis and treatment of OSCC. Results on markers of tumour invasion and metastatic potential appeared to be too premature for a statement regarding their prognostic value. In general, the location of markers within the tumour and not their quantitative assessment as such is emphasized. Particularly, the analysis of the invasive front of the tumour with regard to the occurrence of molecular markers is supposed to be of great importance for prognostication.

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