• biomarkers;
  • esophageal squamous carcinoma;
  • prognosis


Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is the predominant histological subtype of esophageal cancer in Asia, characterized by high incidence and mortality rate. Although significant progress has been made in surgery and adjuvant chemoradiotherapy, the prognosis of the patients with this cancer still remains poor. Investigation into protein alterations that occurred in tumors can provide clues to discover new biomarkers for improving diagnosis and guiding targeted therapy. Hundreds of papers have appeared over the past several decades concerning protein alterations in ESCC. This review summarizes all the dysregulated proteins investigated in the disease from 187 published papers and analyzes their contributions to tumor development and progression. We document protein alterations associated with tumor metastasis and the transition from normal esophageal epithelia to dysplasia in order to reveal the most useful markers for prediction of clinical outcome, early detection, and identification of high-risk patients for targeted therapies. In particluar, we discuss the largest and most rigorous studies on prognostic implications of proteins in ESCC, in which cyclin D1, p53, E-cadherin and VEGF appeared to have the strongest evidence as independent predictors of patient outcome.