Aims: Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is an aggressive gastrointestinal malignancy with only a few long-term survivors even after radical surgery. Patients with ampullary cancer have a better prognosis but adjuvant therapy needs further improvement. Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (Ep-CAM) is strongly expressed in a variety of epithelial cancers and represents a promising target for immunologic tumor therapy. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate Ep-CAM expression and its potential prognostic impact in pancreatic and ampullary carcinomas.
Methods: Ep-CAM expression was investigated retrospectively by immunohistochemistry in paraffin-embedded primary tumor tissue samples from a series of consecutive patients with pancreatic (n=153) and ampullary cancer (n=34).
Results: Ep-CAM overexpression was observed in 85 of 153 pancreatic cancer specimens (56%) and in 29 of 34 ampullary cancer samples (85%). Overall, Ep-CAM failed to be an independent prognostic marker. However, subgroup analyses showed that Ep-CAM overexpression correlated with shorter overall survival amongst patients with ampullary cancer and advanced stage pancreatic cancer, respectively. In the latter subgroup survival gradually worsened with increasing Ep-CAM scores. Furthermore, in ampullary cancer Ep-CAM overexpression was found to correlate with tumor stage.
Conclusions: Ep-CAM overexpression was detectable in the majority of cases with pancreatic and ampullary cancer. Therefore, Ep-CAM represents an attractive target for immune-based therapeutic interventions in these tumor entities. However, the prognostic value of Ep-CAM overexpression remains undetermined.
- ampullary cancer
- pancreatic cancer