Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the external auditory canal (EAC) is rare, usually presents at an advanced stage, and is a more aggressive tumor with poor prognosis. The University of Pittsburgh TNM staging system commonly used in prognostication is not perfect, and more accurate biomarkers predicting prognosis are needed. Tumor budding is an established negative prognostic factor at the invasive front in colorectal cancer. Moreover, immunohistochemical studies showed that laminin 5-γ2 (Ln5-γ2) is expressed at the invasive front in tumor or tumor budding cells. We assessed the prognostic significance of tumor budding and Ln5-γ2 expression by performing Ln5-γ2 immunohistochemistry and evaluated the degree of tumor budding in pre-treatment biopsy specimens, and investigated their correlations to clinicopathological parameters in patients with SCC of the EAC. Patients whose tumors had high budding grade and Ln5-γ2 expression had significantly shorter survival times. Budding grade was significantly correlated with Ln5-γ2 expression. Multivariate analysis revealed that high budding grade predicted poorer prognosis regardless of disease stage. Our results suggested that budding grade and Ln5-γ2 expression can be used as indicators of poor prognosis in patients with SCC of the EAC.
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