FGFR1 is a receptor tyrosine kinases involved in tumor growth signaling, survival, and differentiation in many solid cancer types. There is growing evidence that FGFR1 amplification might predict therapy response to FGFR1 inhibitors in squamous cell lung cancers. To estimate the potential applicability of anti FGFR1 therapies in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, we studied patterns of FGFR1 amplification using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH).
A tissue microarray was constructed from 453 primary treatment-naive squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck regions with histopathological and clinical follow-up data [including oral cavity (n = 222), oropharynx (n = 126), and larynx (n = 105)]. FGFR1 and centromere 8 copy numbers were assessed by dual-color FISH. FGFR1 amplification was defined as a copy number ratio FGFR1: centromere 8 ≥ 2.0. HPV sequencing and p16 immunohistochemistry (IHC) were applied to FGFR1-amplified cancers.
FISH analysis was successful in 297 (66%) of the 453 cancers. FGFR1 amplification was found in 6% of analyzable tumors, and was more frequent in tumors of the oral cavity (13/133 amplified, 10%), than cancers of other localizations (1/79 oropharynx, 4/85 larynx; p = 0.007 and 0.159, respectively). One out of 18 FGFR1 amplified cancers was HPV positive. No associations were found between FGFR1 amplification and tumor phenotype or p16 IHC.
Head and neck cancers are recurrently affected by FGFR1 amplification, with a predominance in cancers of the oral cavity. Finding only one HPV positive and FGFR1 amplified cancer argues against a causal relationship between HPV and FGFR1 amplifications.