Objective: To examine the expression of candidate markers for micrometastasis. Study Design: Cross-sectional analysis of subjects with oral cavity carcinomas who underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and subsequent immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis. Subjects and Methods: Two groups were identified based on SLNB status: negative SLNB (19/30) and positive SLNB (11/30). Specimens underwent IHC using conjugated monoclonal antibodies for membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), CD44, focal adhesion kinase-1, and E-cadherin. Staining results were evaluated to determine if a particular marker was associated with SLNB status or other histopathologic prognosticators. Results: For MT1-MMP, 21 percent (3/14) of evaluable specimens stained positively in the SLNB(-) group and 67 percent (4/6) stained positively in the SLNB(+) group (P = 0.12). No statistically significant association was seen between any marker's staining pattern and SLNB status alone. When MT1-MMP staining was evaluated in tumors with SLNB(+) or perineural invasion (PNI) present on histopathology, six of nine specimens (67%) stained positively for MT1-MMP, vs one of 11 (9%) in specimens lacking either negative prognosticator (P = 0.016, RR = 7.33). Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest that MT1-MMP positivity in primary tumor specimens may identify aggressive tumor types, evidenced by the presence of micrometastasis or PNI.
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