It is known that head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) originating from different anatomic locations can exhibit varying behavior that is not predictable by histopathology of the primary tumor. Using a microarray containing 27,323 cDNA clones, we generated sets of gene expression profiles for 36 HNSCC primary tumors (12 oral cavity, 12 oropharynx, and 12 larynx/hypopharynx). From these datasets, we ranked genes according to their ability to differentiate between patients whose disease progressed within a 24 month period (aggressive phenotype) and those that did not (non-aggressive phenotype) based on levels of gene expression. A merging of datasets from the three sites revealed that only a fraction of identified genes were shared between any two sites. This contrasted greatly with the significant overlap (approximately 50%) in down-regulated genes identified in tumor/normal comparisons using cases both from oropharynx and larynx/hypopharynx. From these data, we conclude that HNSCC tumors originating from different anatomic sites share consistent changes in gene expression when comparing primary tumors to normal adjacent mucosa; these common changes most likely reflect alterations required for tumor development. In contrast, once a tumor has developed, tumor-host interactions at the different anatomic sites are likely responsible for the site-specific signatures associated with aggressive versus non-aggressive disease. Predictions of outcome based on gene expression profiling are therefore heavily influenced by the anatomic site of the primary tumor.
- Head and neck cancer
- Squamous cell carcinoma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine