To investigate the relationship between oncogene protein expression and nasopharyngeal carcinoma outcome.
Tumor samples from 51 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma were analyzed by immunohistochemical staining for expression of Bcl-2 and c-Myc protein before irradiation. Five-year follow-up data were available.
Thirty-one (61%) of 51 tumors expressed Bcl-2 protein, and 29 (57%) of 51 tumors expressed c-Myc protein. In the Bcl-2+ group, 20 (65%) and 19 (61%) of 31 patients experienced recurrence or died, respectively, whereas only 7 (35%) and 5 (25%) of 20 patients with Bcl-2− tumors did so. On the other hand, patients with c-Myc+ tumors had lower recurrence and death rates (38% [11/29] and 34% [10/29], respectively) than those with c-Myc− tumors (73% [16/22] and 64% [14/22], respectively). A statistically significant association was confirmed between Bcl-2 and c-Myc positivity and patient outcome.
Expression of Bcl-2 and c-Myc protein seems to be a useful marker to reflect irradiation response and to predict illness condition and patient outcome.