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Use of multiple biological markers in radiotherapy-treated head and neck cancer

  • P Silva (a1) (a2) (a3), N J Slevin (a4), P Sloan (a5), H Valentine (a1), D Ryder (a6), P Price (a1), C M L West (a1) and J J Homer (a1) (a2) (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 14 April 2010

Management of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is often based on clinical parameters, with little appreciation of the underlying tumour biology. Single biological marker studies fail to acknowledge the complexity of these tumours. Our aim was to define a profile of biological markers associated with outcome.


This retrospective study involved consecutive patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma treated with primary radiotherapy between 1996 and 2001. Pre-treatment biopsies were used to study the immunohistochemical expression of nine biological markers. Markers were chosen to reflect biologically relevant pathways.


Following analysis of nine markers, a profile of two markers was derived (carbonic anhydrase 9 and major vault protein), the co-expression of which conferred a significantly poor probability of locoregional control. The prognostic effect of these biomarkers in combination was greater than their effect individually.


Biomarker profiles can be established which highlight large differences in locoregional control. Identifying tumours that express both carbonic anhydrase 9 and major vault protein may facilitate patient selection for more aggressive treatment.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Prof Catharine West, Translational Radiobiology Group, School of Cancer and Enabling Sciences, The University of Manchester, Christie Hospital, Manchester M20 4BX, UK. Fax: +44 161 446 8111 E-mail:
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Presented at the 7th International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer, 22 July 2008, San Francisco, California, USA.

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14AR Panigrahi , SE Pinder , SY Chan , EC Paish , JF Robertson , IO Ellis . The role of PTEN and its signalling pathways, including AKT, in breast cancer; an assessment of relationships with other prognostic factors and with outcome. J Pathol 2004;204:93100

15VA Kickhoefer , AC Siva , NL Kedersha , EM Inman , C Ruland , M Streuli . The 193-kD vault protein, VPARP, is a novel poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. J Cell Biol 1999;146:917–28

17GD Wilson , MI Saunders , S Dische , PI Richman , FM Daley , SM Bentzen . bcl-2 expression in head and neck cancer; an enigmatic prognostic marker. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2001;49:435–41

20RV Gowda , JM Henk , KL Mais , AJ Sykes , R Swindell , NJ Slevin . Three weeks radiotherapy for T1 glottic cancer: the Christie and Royal Marsden experience. Radiother Oncol 2003;68:105–11

29H De Schutter , W Landuyt , E Verbeken , L Goethals , R Hermans , S Nuyts . The prognostic value of the hypoxia markers CA9 and GLUT1 and the cytokines VEGF and IL6 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma treated by radiotherapy +/- chemotherapy. BMC Cancer 2005;5:42

35P Silva , CML West , N Slevin , H Valentine , WD Ryder , L Hampson Tumor expression of major vault protein is an adverse prognostic factor for radiotherapy outcome in oropharyngeal carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2007;69:133–40

37DR Gandara , PNJ Lara , Z Goldberg , QT Le , PC Mack , DH Lau Tirapazamine: prototype for a novel class of therapeutic agents targeting tumour hypoxia. Semin Oncol 2002;29:102–9

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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
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  • EISSN: 1748-5460
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