Oral oncology

Epstein-Barr virus infection is strictly associated with the metastatic spread of sinonasal squamous-cell carcinomas.

PMID 26272275


Sinonasal squamous-cell carcinomas (SNSCC) are relatively rare. Thus, data regarding the rate of lymph node metastases are inconsistent in contrast with well-known high metastasis rates in squamous-cell carcinomas of the head and neck (HNSCC) (oral cavity, pharynx and larynx). Hence, the indication for elective neck dissection is difficult in SNSCC. The aim of this study was to assess common genetic alterations and EBV and HPV status as a function of metastasis in SNSCC and HNSCC. We retrospectively analyzed 44 SNSCC and 65 HNSCC for TP53, EGFR, KRAS, PIK3CA and BRAF mutations using a high-resolution melting analysis followed by Sanger sequencing. EBV and HPV detection was performed using in situ hybridization for virus encoded RNA. Tumor-associated p16(INK4a) expression was visualized by immunohistochemistry and correlated with HPV infection. The mutation data, EBV and HPV status were statistically compared with the clinical data in SNSCC and HNSCC. TP53 mutations were exclusively associated with shorter survival in SNSCC (p=0.048). All the other markers had no effect on the metastasis rate and survival. In total, 20 of 44 SNSCC were EBV-positive. Only these EBV positive tumors developed lymph node or distant metastases (p=0.008). LMP1 was positive in 14/44 patients. When combining both methods significance for a correlation between EBV/LMP1 positive patients and metastases was even higher (p=0.001). In SNSCC, the presence of EBV is strictly associated with metastasis. We recommend an elective neck dissection in patients with EBV-positive SNSCC.