Mucins have been associated with survival in various cancer patients, but there have been no studies of mucins in small bowel carcinoma (SBC). In this study, we investigated the relationships between mucin expression and clinicopathologic factors in 60 SBC cases, in which expression profiles of MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC6 and MUC16 in cancer and normal tissues were examined by immunohistochemistry. MUC1, MUC5AC and MUC16 expression was increased in SBC lesions compared to the normal epithelium, and expression of these mucins was related to clinicopathologic factors, as follows: MUC1 [tumor location (p = 0.019), depth (p = 0.017) and curability (p = 0.007)], MUC5AC [tumor location (p = 0.063) and lymph node metastasis (p = 0.059)], and MUC16 [venous invasion (p = 0.016) and curability (p = 0.016)]. Analysis of 58 cases with survival data revealed five factors associated with a poor prognosis: poorly-differentiated or neuroendocrine histological type (p<0.001), lymph node metastasis (p<0.001), lymphatic invasion (p = 0.026), venous invasion (p<0.001) and curative resection (p<0.001), in addition to expression of MUC1 (p = 0.042), MUC5AC (p = 0.007) and MUC16 (p<0.001). In subsequent multivariate analysis with curability as the covariate, lymph node metastasis, venous invasion, and MUC5AC and/or MUC16 expression were significantly related to the prognosis. Multivariate analysis in curative cases (n = 45) showed that SBC with MUC5AC and/or MUC16 expression had a significantly independent high hazard risk after adjusting for the effects of venous invasion (hazard ratio: 5.6, 95% confidence interval: 1.8-17). In conclusion, the study shows that a MUC5AC-positive and/or MUC16-positive status is useful as a predictor of a poor outcome in patients with SBC.
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