The limited number of available treatments for patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has prompted us to further investigate the biology of SCLC by molecular profiling. We collected formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor samples from 127 patients with SCLC, who had undergone surgery at 16 institutions between January 2003 and January 2013, and analyzed the association between disease-specific survival and protein expression of c-kit, c-Met, epidermal growth factor receptor, human EGFR-related 2, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor II, anaplastic lymphoma kinase, mediator complex subunit 12 (MED12), and transforming growth factor beta receptor II (TGF-βRII) by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Of the 125 evaluable samples, all tumors expressed MED12, and 123 samples (98.4%) expressed TGF-βRII. MED12 was highly expressed in the nucleus in 92% of the positive samples while TGF-βRII was highly expressed in the cytoplasm in 55% of the positive samples. High c-kit expression was an independent favorable prognostic marker confirmed by multivariate analysis (hazard ratio: 0.543, 95% confidence interval: 0.310-0.953, p = 0.033). Both the relapse free-survival and overall survival of patients who underwent adjuvant chemotherapy were statistically longer in those with high c-kit expression (n = 38) than those with intermediate, low, or no c-kit expression (n = 19) (not reached vs 11.6 months, p = 0.021; not reached vs 25.9 months, p = 0.028). IHC for c-kit may offer a prognostic marker for early-stage SCLC, and the results for MED12 and TGF- βRII may suggest the biological characteristics of SCLC. Further investigation of the roles of their related molecules in early stage SCLC is required.
- Small-cell lung cancer
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