Survivin: A Biomarker of Hope for Oral Cancer Diagnosis

Survivin staining in WDSCC

Survivin staining in WDSCC
Survivin staining in WDSCC

The study aimed at evaluation of expression of Survivin in different grades of oral squamous cell carcinoma in which biospied tissue of 43 confirmed cases of Oral squamous cell carcinoma was taken and immunohistochemical expression of Survivin was seen.

The word ‘Cancer’ has created a fear in society. The reason being, its decreased survival rates, especially if detected at later stages. The Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one amongst common head and neck cancers and shows poor prognosis despite advancement in treatment and diagnosis. One of the primary reasons for the poor prognosis in OSCC is the lack of significant and unique molecular tumor markers to assess risk and prognosis. Identification of better prognostic factors is necessary to assist clinicians in more accurate lesional staging and prediction of prognosis. Considering all this, a study was planned in identification of regulators of programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which may influence the cell death/cell viability balance in cancer. Any disturbance in normal apoptotic cycle especially the ones leading to inhibition of apoptosis, aids in growth of cancer cells.

Survivin staining in PDSCC
Survivin staining in PDSCC
Survivin staining in MDSCC
Survivin staining in MDSCC

The survivin protein is called baculoviral inhibitor of apoptosis repeat-containing 5 or BIRC5and expressed highly in most human tumours and fetal tissue, but is completely absent in terminally differentiated cells. However, its expression is shown to be increased in oral squamous cell carcinoma. The results showed significantly high survivin expression in Poorly Differentiated Squamous Cell Carcinoma (PDSCC), compared to well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma (WDSCC ) and moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma (MDSCC).

With these results it was concluded that the Survivin was expressed in tissues with OSCC and not in control and its expression increased with advancement in disease. However, present data should be considered preliminary, and thus the use of Survivin as a single marker may be not sufficient for the early diagnosis of OSCC. Further investigations with larger samples and multiple biomarkers evaluation are required to clarify this issue.


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Dr. Vandana shah

Professor & Head

Dept. Of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology

KM Shah Dental College & Hospital

Gujarat, India.


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