Does epithelial mesenchymal transition markers snail and slug correlate with clinical stage of oral cancer: a clinico-pathological study of 258 patients


  • Suvercha Arya Department of ENT and Head Neck Surgery, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, Delhi, India
  • Vipin Arora Department of ENT and Head Neck Surgery, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, Delhi, India
  • Harish C. Taneja Department of ENT and Head Neck Surgery, Maulana Azad Medical College, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi, India
  • Priyanka Gogoi Department of Pathology, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, Delhi, India



Epithelial mesenchymal transition, Oral cancer, Oral squamous cell carcinoma, Neck metastasis


Background: Head and neck cancers are the 6th most common cancers worldwide. In contrast, according to population-based cancer registries these constitute the commonest cancer in Indian men and third most common cancer in women. Oral cancer is the commonest head neck cancer, attributed to rampant smoking and chewing of tobacco and areca nut in India. Epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) is the process in which committed epithelial cells undergo transformation into mesenchymal phenotype, that has invasive properties and thus contribute to metastatic potential of cancers.

Methods: The current study was undertaken to correlate the expression of EMT markers snail and slug with tumor stage at the time of presentation.  

Results: In present study, snail positivity was 60% in patients presenting at stage 1, 73% in stage 2, 85% in stage 3 and 90% in stage 4 patients. There was no significant association between clinical staging and snail positivity (p=0.549). Slug positivity was 40% in patients presenting at stage 1, 26.7% in stage 2, 59% in stage 3 and 77% in stage 4 patients. There was significant association between clinical staging and Slug positivity (p=0.002). Either snail or slug expression was found in 89.53% patients.

Conclusions: We found that EMT marker slug expression was significantly associated with advanced clinical stage of oral cancer at the time of presentation.


Author Biography

Vipin Arora, Department of ENT and Head Neck Surgery, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, Dilshad Garden, Delhi, India



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