p16 Expression as a Surrogate Marker for HPV Infection in Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma can Predict Response to Neo-Adjuvant Chemotherapy


Background: Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is a common cancer in the north east of India. Thepresent study concerned the prevalence of human papilloma virus (HPV) in the ESCC in north eastern India andits impact on response to chemotherapy. Materials and
Methods: p16 expression, a surrogate marker for HPVinfection was assessed in 101 pre-treatment biopsies of locally advanced ESCC, reported from a comprehensivecancer centre in north east India, using immunohistochemistry. All patients received neo-adjuvant chemotherapy.Response was assessed clinically and histopathologically with attention to p16 expression.
Results: p16 wasexpressed in 22% of ESCC (22 out of 101) and was more prevalent in patients who were more than 45 years ofage (P=0.048). p16 positive tumors appeared more commonly in the upper 2/3 of the thoracic esophagus (18 in22). Nine of the 22 (41%) p16 positive tumors achieved pathologic complete response following neo-adjuvantchemotherapy (P=0.008). There was a trend towards reduced mortality in this group (P=0.048). Some 9 of the20 (45%) patients who achieved pathologic complete response were p16 positive.
Conclusions: Expression ofp16 in ESCC correlates with higher rate of pathologic complete remission in patients undergoing neo adjuvantchemotherapy and could be a predictive marker for response assessment.