Background Very few articles have been written about the expression of kallikreins (KLK4 and KLK7) in oral cancers. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine and report on their prognostic potential. Methods Eighty archival blocks of primary oral cancers were sectioned and stained for KLK4 and KLK7 by immunohistochemistry. The percentage and the intensity of malignant keratinocyte staining were correlated with patient survival using Cox regression analysis. Results Both kallikreins were expressed strongly in the majority of tumor cells in 68 of 80 cases: these were mostly moderately or poorly differentiated neoplasms. Staining was particularly intense at the infiltrating front. Patients with intense staining had significantly shorter overall survival (p < .05). Conclusion This is the first observation on the patient survival influenced by kallikrein expression in oral carcinoma. The findings are consistent with those for carcinomas at other sites, in particular the prostate and ovary. KLK4 and/or KLK7 immunohistochemistry seems to have diagnostic and prognostic potential in this disease
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