Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the external auditory canal (EAC) is rare and offers a poor prognosis; more accurate prognostic biomarkers are required. Our laboratory recently demonstrated that tumor budding, characterized by tumor cell clusters (< 5 cells), and laminin 5-γ2 staining of SCC of the EAC are associated with shorter survival. However, clusters composed of ≥ 5 tumor cells are also found in the stroma. Previous reports of colorectal cancer suggest that poorly differentiated clusters (PDCs) are a negative prognostic indicator. Here, we report on the association between PDCs and prognosis in SCC of the EAC. PDCs and tumor budding were histopathologically and immunohistochemically (cytokeratin AE1/AE3) analyzed in 31 cases of pre-treatment biopsy SCC of the EAC. Clusters in the stroma composed of < or ≥ 5 cancer cells were defined as tumor budding or PDCs, respectively. Entire tumors were initially scanned to identify greatest PDC density. Tumors with low or high PDC density were classified as low- and high-grade, respectively. Patients with high-grade PDCs had a significantly poorer outcome than those with low-grade. Even in cases of low-grade tumor budding, those with high-grade PDCs had a poor prognosis. Multivariate analysis results indicated that high-grade PDCs were associated with poor prognosis. PDC grade can provide a more accurate prognosis than tumor budding in SCC of the EAC.
Head and Neck Pathology – Springer Journals
Published: May 30, 2018
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