Inflammation in oral cancer

Oral cancer is a heterogeneous and aggressive disease with poor survival rates. Current treatments include surgery and radiotherapy, and few targeted treatments exist today. Treatment-related side effects are often serious and life-long, including dry mouth, speech impairment, challenges with eating and drinking, changes in the taste and smell sensation, dental problems as well as disfiguring defects after surgery. There is a clear need for better treatment options that improve survival and reduce the treatment-related side effects.

Foto: Jørn Berger-Nyvoll/UiT

The tumour microenvironment, including immune cells and signalling molecules, may have a huge impact on the progression of cancer. Depending on the immune composition, cancers may either regress or progress. In this project we are studying the immune infiltrate at different stages of oral cancer progression. For this we study human tissue samples together with in vitro and in vivo models. The spectrum of methods employed includes immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridisation, RT-qPCR, FACS, Luminex, bioinformatics as well as primary and cell culture-based methods. Our goal is to understand the mechanisms that drive the anti-cancer immune responses to enable better treatment options for oral cancer patients.


Foto: Kjersti Sellæg/UiT




Hadler-Olsen, E. Wirsing, A.M. (2019)

Tissue-infiltrating immune cells as prognostic markers in oral squamous cell carcinoma: a systematic review and meta-analysis

British Journal of Cancer 120, 714-727.

DOI 10.1038/s41416-019-0409-6


Wirsing, A.M., Ervik, I.K., Seppola, M., Uhlin-Hansen, L., Steigen, S.E. & Hadler-Olsen, E. (2018)

Presence of high-endothelial venules correlates with a favorable immune microenvironment in oral squamous cell carcinoma

Modern Pathology 31:910–922.

DOI 10.1038/s41379-018-0019-5


Wirsing, A.M., Rikardsen, O.G., Steigen, S.E., Uhlin-Hansen, L. Hadler-Olsen, E. (2015)

Presence of tumour high-endothelial venules is an independent positive prognostic factor and stratifies patients with advanced-stage oral squamous cell carcinoma

Tumor Biology 37, 2449-2459.

DOI 10.1007/s13277-015-4036-4


Wirsing, A.M., Rikardsen, O.G., Steigen, S.E., Uhlin-Hansen, L. Hadler-Olsen, E. (2014)

Characterisation and prognostic value of tertiary lymphoid structures in oral squamous cell carcinoma

BMC Clinical Pathology 14, 38.

DOI 10.1186/1472-6890-14-38


Completed PhDs

Anna Maria Wirsing


The immune microenvironment in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Characterization and prognostic markers

Link to doctoral thesis:


Foto: Jørn Berger-Nyvoll/UiT

Contact person: Synnøve Magnussen


Synnøve Magnussen
Ibrahim Afolabi Abdulsalam
Anna Maria Wirsing
Elin Synnøve Hadler-Olsen
Kjersti Sellæg
May-Britt Five

Financial/grant information:

UiT The artic university of Norway and Helse Nord