Telomerase Activity in Head and Neck Cancer
Background: Telomerase activity is associated with many malignancies, including head and neck cancer. The use of telomerase activity as a diagnostic and prognostic marker of head and neck cancer development was examined and compared with standard histological analysis. Patients and Methods: Telomerase activity was determined using quantitative dual-colour real-time TRAP (telomeric repeat amplification protocol). In each of 58 patients, a sample of tumour tissue, adjacent mucosa and normal muscle was collected. Results: Telomerase activation was observed in 88% of tumour tissue and 34% of tumour-adjacent mucosa samples. No telomerase activity was detected in normal muscle tissues. Telomerase activity correlated with tumour grade, with an average of 4.6 telomerase units (T.U.) in well-differentiated, 8.3 T.U. in moderately-differentiated and 20 T.U. in poorly differentiated tumours. Relapse occurred in 13 patients and no telomerase activity was detected in 3 recurrent tumours. Conclusion: Telomerase activity may be used as an objective parameter inversely related to tumour differentiation. Prognosis in telomerase-negative tumours is worse than that of the telomerase-positive group.