Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) are treated with surgery, radiotherapy and cisplatin-based chemotherapy, but survival from locally-advanced disease remains poor, particularly in patients whose tumors are negative for Human papillomavirus (HPV). Type 1 IGF receptor (IGF-1R) is known to promote tumorigenesis and resistance to cancer therapeutics. Here, we assessed IGF-1R immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays containing 852 cores from 346 HNSCC patients with primary tumors in the oropharynx (n = 231), larynx (85), hypopharynx (28), oral cavity (2). Of these, 236 (68%) were HPV-negative, 110 (32%) positive. IGF-1R was detected in the cell membrane of 36% and cytoplasm of 92% of HNSCCs; in 64 cases with matched normal tonsillar epithelium, IGF-1R was overexpressed in the HNSCCs (P < 0.001). Overall survival (OS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) were reduced in patients whose tumors contained high membrane IGF-1R [OS: hazard ratio (HR) = 1.63, P = 0.006; DSS: HR = 1.63, P = 0.016], cytoplasmic IGF-1R (OS: HR = 1.58, P = 0.009; DSS: HR = 1.58, P = 0.024) and total IGF-1R (OS: HR = 2.02, P < 0.001; DSS: HR = 2.2, P < 0.001). High tumor IGF-1R showed significant association with high-tumor T-stage (P < 0.001) and HPV-negativity (P < 0.001), and was associated with shorter OS when considering patients with HPV-positive (P = 0.01) and negative (P = 0.006) tumors separately. IGF-1R was independently associated with survival in multivariate analysis including HPV, but not when lymphovascular invasion, perineural spread and T-stage were included. Of these factors, only IGF-1R can be manipulated; the association of IGF-1R with aggressive disease supports experimental incorporation of anti-IGF-1R agents into multimodality treatment programs for HPV-negative and high IGF-1R HPV-positive HNSCC.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





648 - 655


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic, Combined Modality Therapy, Disease-Free Survival, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Female, Head and Neck Neoplasms, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Staging, Papillomaviridae, Papillomavirus Infections, Receptor, IGF Type 1, Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck, Young Adult