Introduction: Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) plays a crucial role in cancer development and progression. FAK is overexpressed and/or activated and associated with poor prognosis in various malignancies. However, in lung cancer, activated FAK expression and its prognostic value are unknown. Methods: FAK and activated FAK (phospho-FAK Y397) expressions were analyzed by multiplex immunofluorescence staining in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues from 95 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 105 small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) patients, and 37 healthy donors. The FAK staining score was defined as the percentage (%) of FAK-stained tumor area multiplied by (×) FAK mean intensity and phospho-FAK staining score as the (% of phospho-FAK-stained area of low intensity × 1) + (% of phospho-FAK-stained area of medium intensity × 2) + (% of the phospho-FAK-stained area of high intensity × 3). FAK and phospho-FAK staining scores were compared between normal, NSCLC, and SCLC tissues. They were also tested for correlations with patient characteristics and clinical outcomes. Results: The median follow-up time after the first treatment was 42.5 months and 6.4 months for NSCLC and SCLC patients, respectively. FAK and phospho-FAK staining scores were significantly higher in lung cancer than in normal lung and significantly higher in SCLC compared to NSCLC tissues (p
< 0.01). Moreover, the ratio between phospho-FAK and FAK staining scores was significantly higher in SCLC than in NSCLC tissues (p
< 0.01). However, FAK and activated FAK expression in lung cancer did not correlate with recurrence-free and overall survival in NSCLC and SCLC patients. Conclusions: Total FAK and activated FAK expressions are significantly higher in lung cancer than in normal lung, and significantly higher in SCLC compared to NSCLC, but are not prognostic biomarkers in this study.
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