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Objective: to investigate the role of CD- 44 immunohistochemical expression within tumoural and non-tumoural tissue, aiming to understand if it can help us to predict the need of performing inguinal lymph nodes dissection to complete surgery of the penis. Materials and methods: CD44 immunohistochemical expression was investigated in tissue specimens from 39 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the penis who underwent partial or total penectomy between 1987 and 2008. Patient age, tumour size, and grade; CD44 intensity score, cytological expression, topographic and distribution pattern were evaluated by immunohistochemistry on archived material and correlated with disease-specific survival. Results: mean patients age was 67.7 years; mean followup was 130.44 months. Bilateral inguinal lymphadenectomy was performed in 14 patients; there were 8 N+ patients (23.5%). pTis-pT1 vs. > pT1 and the EAU classification of risk group resulted to be predictive of lymph nodal metastases at univariate analysis (respectively p = 0.006 and p = 0.045), but not the grading. The intensity score, cytological expression, topographic and distribution pattern of CD44 staining did not correlate with stage, grade and lymph nodes metastases. All disease related deaths occurred only in patients showing an high CD44 intratumoral expression, but this correlation is not statistically significant. Multivariate analysis showed that only lymph node metastasis was an independent prognostic factor predictive of lymph nodes metastases. Conclusions: CD44 expression in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the penis is not able to predict the need of performing inguinal lymphadenectomy; staging and the EAU classification of risk group resulted to be predictive of lymph nodal metastases.
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