Background. A relatively high failure rate in the therapy of patients with early oral tongue squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) is evidenced by untreated clinically negative neck lymph node metastasis. It is important to predict the malignant potential of oral tongue SCC in stage I and II patients, because the development of lymph node metastasis directly affects the prognosis of the patients. Methods. We evaluated maspin expression immunohistochemically in patients with stage I and II oral tongue SCCs and determined whether the expression level may be a useful factor in predicting metastatic potential and prognosis of these SCCs. Results. Clinical follow-up data showed a longer disease-free interval and overall survival periods for tumors immunohistochemically positive for maspin than for tumors negative for maspin, with the difference in disease-free interval being statistically significant (p = .01). The absence of maspin expression was found more frequently in cases of subsequent cervical lymph node metastasis than in cases without metastasis (p = .03). Conclusions. Decreased maspin expression may be a significant factor associated with the metastatic potential of stage I and II oral tongue SCCs.
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