Overall assessment of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: time to take notice



Almangush A, Leivo I, Mäkitie AA.


Acta Otolaryngol. 2020 Mar;140(3):246-248. doi: 10.1080/00016489.2020.1720284. Epub 2020 Feb 5.


Background: The immune response has an important role in cancer progression. At the same time, anti-tumor effect of the immune response has been speculated to cause destruction of cancer cells. Recent studies have highlighted the significance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) in different cancers. The International Immuno-Oncology Biomarkers Working Group has in 2017 published a practical review proposing a standardized method to assess TILs in the routine hematoxylin and eosin (HE) stained sections.Aims/objectives: To discuss the association between TILs and survival in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).Material and methods: We review recent studies having assessed TILs in HNSCC and showing that tumors having low TILs associate significantly with worse survival.Results: These findings underline that HNSCC cases with low TILs might benefit from multimodality treatment and might be indicated to receive immunotherapy.Conclusions: The evaluation of TILs using routine HE-stained sections is practical and can be considered in assessment of antitumor activity.Significance: Here, we highlight the impact of overall assessment of TILs using the routine HE-stained specimens in HNSCC.

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Link/DOI: 10.1080/00016489.2020.1720284