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Increased PD-L1 and p16 expression are common in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.


Overexpression of p16 is closely related to human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and pertains a prognostic relevance. Programmed cell death 1-ligand 1 (PD-L1) is another important marker, as anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy is available. Retrospective analysis of 57 cases of the SCC involving oropharynx (27 cases), hypopharynx (5 cases), larynx (11 cases), and oral cavity (14 cases) was performed. Each case was scrutinized for the basaloid morphology, p16, and PD-L1 expression. Basaloid morphology was identified in 47% of total cases. The majority of basaloid SCC variants were located in the oropharynx (89%). High expression of p16 was mostly observed in the oropharynx. High PD-L1 expression was seen predominantly in oropharyngeal and hypopharyngeal locations. Further studies in a larger cohort are necessary to correlate PD-L1 and p16 expression with survival.

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