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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 24, Issue 1, Pages 25-39

Telomerase Activity Levels in the Surgical Margin and Tumour Distant Tissue of the Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head-And-Neck

Eva‐Maria Fabricius,1 Ulrike Gurr,1 and Gustav‐Paul Wildner2

1Clinic for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Campus Virchow Hospital, Charité, Medical Faculty of the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
2Formerly Department of Pathology, Robert‐Rössle‐Clinic, Campus Berlin‐Buch, Charité, Medical Faculty of the Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The survival of patients with a head‐and‐neck squamous cell carcinoma is determined by loco‐regional recurrence and second primary carcinomas. As a complement to histopathology, molecular changes of tumour marginal and tumour distant tissue may confirm curative surgical tumour extirpation. We tested telomerase activity with PCR‐ELISA kits. 20 tumour margin biopsies were chosen by the surgeon from 20 patients. In addition, 3 tissue samples were taken from each of 20 additional patients, one from the carcinoma centre, the tumour margin and one distant from the tumour. 50% of the carcinoma centres were telomerase‐positive. Thirteen of the 40 tumour margin samples showed increased telomerase levels, and in 3 of these residual carcinoma was histopathologically detected. Six of the 20 tumour distant tissues revealed increased telomerase levels. Telomerase positivity in carcinoma‐free tumour margins correlated with a good prognosis. Confirmation of the results in a larger patient group is needed.