AimsThe Fas-associated death domain gene (FADD) is often overexpressed in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC), and is considered to be a driver gene in amplification of the chromosomal 11q13.3 region. Amplification of 11q13.3 is associated with increased metastasis in HNSCC and breast cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between FADD protein expression in advanced-stage HNSCC and clinicopathological features and outcome.
Methods and resultsTumour tissues of 177 HNSCC patients uniformly treated with primary surgery and postoperative radiotherapy were collected. FADD expression was assessed on pretreatment tumour biopsies using immunohistochemistry. High FADD expression was detected in 44% of the HNSCC patients. High expression was associated with an increased rate of lymph node metastasis (P=0.001) and with a shorter distant metastasis-free interval (DMFI) (HR 2.6, 95% CI 1.0-6.7, P=0.046) when lymph node metastases were present.
ConclusionsOur data show that an increase in FADD expression is associated with a higher incidence of lymph node metastasis at presentation, and with shorter DMFI when lymph node metastases are present. High FADD expression in the primary tumour could be a useful marker to select patients for systemic treatment strategies that reduce the risk of distant metastases.