Expression of epidermal growth factor receptor in head and neck cancers correlates with clinical progression: a multicentre immunohistochemical study in the Asia–Pacific region
Aims: With ongoing efforts to target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mediated tumour growth in the treatment of selected human malignancies, there is a need to determine the expression levels of EGFR and to evaluate its prognostic value in various malignancies in the Asia–Pacific region.
Methods and results: A total of 172 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas from Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan were selected for EGFR detection. Immunohistochemical staining was performed to evaluate EGFR expression. EGFR expression was present in 88.4% (152/172) of all cases tested. Specifically, EGFR expression was found in 91.3% (42/46), 84.6% (22/26), 84.1% (37/44), 96.0% (24/25), and 87.1% (27/31) cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas from the oral cavity, oropharynx, nasopharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx, respectively. The results demonstrate a stronger EGFR expression in T4 tumours (P=0.017) and later clinical stages (P=0.016). No significant correlation was seen with risk factors, primary tumour site and ethnicity.
Conclusions: The majority of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas express EGFR, indicating the importance of studying the efficacy of anti-cancer therapy through this pathway. The results also show similar rates of receptor expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients from our region compared with other parts of the world.