Promoter hypermethylation using 24-gene array in early head and neck cancer: Better outcome in oral than in oropharyngeal cancer

Rob Noorlag, Pauline M.W. van Kempen, Cathy B. Moelans, Rick de Jong, Laura E.R. Blok, Ronald Koole, Wilko Grolman, Paul J. van Diest, Robert J.J. van Es, Stefan M. Willems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Silencing of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) by DNA promoter hypermethylation is an early event in carcinogenesis and a potential target for personalized cancer treatment. In head and neck cancer, little is known about the role of promoter hypermethylation in survival. Using methylation specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) we investigated the role of promoter hypermethylation of 24 well-described genes (some of which are classic TSGs), which are frequently methylated in different cancer types, in 166 HPV-negative early oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC), and 51 HPV-negative early oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC) in relation to clinicopathological features and survival. Early OSCC showed frequent promoter hypermethylation in RARB (31% of cases), CHFR (20%), CDH13 (13%), DAPK1 (12%), and APC (10%). More hypermethylation (≥ 2 genes) independently correlated with improved disease specific survival (hazard ratio 0.17, P = 0.014) in early OSCC and could therefore be used as prognostic biomarker. Early OPSCC s showed more hypermethylation of CDH13 (58%), TP73 (14%), and total hypermethylated genes. Hypermethylation of two or more genes has a significantly different effect on survival in OPSCC compared with OSCC, with a trend toward worse instead of better survival. This could have a biological explanation, which deserves further investigation and could possibly lead to more stratified treatment in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1220-1227
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2014


  • DNA methylation
  • Head neck cancer
  • Hypermethylation
  • Oral cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Prognosis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Tumor suppressor gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research

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