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Expression of Focal Adhesion Kinase in Patients With Endometrial Cancer: A Clinicopathologic Study
  1. Boris Gabriel, MD*,
  2. Annette Hasenburg, MD*,
  3. Miriam Waizenegger, MD*,
  4. Marzenna Orlowska-Volk, MD,
  5. Elmar Stickeler, MD* and
  6. Axel Zur Hausen, MD, PhD
  1. *Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and
  2. Department of Institute of Pathology, Freiburg University Medical Center, Freiburg, Germany.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Axel zur Hausen, MD, PhD, Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Freiburg, Breisacherstr. 115A, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany. E-mail: axel.zurhausen{at}, boris.gabriel{at}


Introduction: The pp125 focal adhesion kinase (FAK) plays a pivotal role in tumor cell signaling. Focal adhesion kinase expression has been linked to tumor cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis, but data on endometrial cancer are inconclusive.

Methods: We assess FAK expression by immunohistochemistry in endometrial cancer for its value to predict patient prognosis.

Results: Of 134 endometrial cancer cases, 120 (89%) revealed moderate and strong expressions of FAK, whereas weak expression was found in 14 (11%) tumors. Kaplan-Meier analysis indicated a clear trend toward improved survival rates for patients with endometrial carcinomas weakly expressing FAK, and notably, there was neither lymph node metastasis nor tumor-related death in this patient subgroup. Increased expression of FAK correlated with higher histological tumor grade (P = 0.002), lymphatic vascular space invasion (P = 0.003), and vascular space invasion (P = 0.02). Significant prognostic survival variables were tumor stage (P < 0.01), histological type (P < 0.01), tumor grade (P = 0.028), and pelvic lymph node status (P = 0.035). Multivariate Cox regression analysis identified histological tumor grade as a significant independent predictor of patient survival (hazards ratio, 2.71; P = 0.03).

Conclusions: Further studies are warranted to elucidate whether FAK expression analysis is a suitable tool in stratifying patients at different risks of disease progress, and wether FAK might become a new molecular target for endometrial anticancer therapy.

  • Focal adhesion kinase
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Tyrosine kinase
  • Survival

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  • Boris Gabriel and Annette Hasenburg contributed equally to this work.