Angiogenesis in malignancies of the female genital tract

Gynecol Oncol. 1999 Feb;72(2):220-31. doi: 10.1006/gyno.1998.5152.


Objective: The purpose of this work was to review current knowledge pertaining to angiogenesis in malignancies of the female genital tract.

Methods: We identified studies published in the English language regarding angiogenesis in gynecologic malignancies. The studies were obtained from a MEDLINE search from 1966 through June 1998; additional sources were identified through cross-referencing.

Results: A growing body of evidence confirms the ability of vulvar and cervical squamous cell carcinomas and endometrial and ovarian adenocarcinoma to induce angiogenesis. In vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia a correlation between vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, microvessel density (MVD), and progression of dysplasia has been demonstrated. In invasive vulvar carcinoma, high VEGF expression and MVD portend poor prognosis. Currently a debate exists regarding the ability of cervical squamous intraepithelial neoplasia to induce angiogenesis. Most studies, however, indicate angiogenesis to be of prognostic value in patients with invasive squamous cell carcinoma. The ability of complex endometrial hyperplasia to induce angiogenesis has been demonstrated. A direct correlation between angiogenesis, higher grade and depth of invasion in Stage I adenocarcinoma, and prognostic value in Stage I and II and recurrent disease has been noted. In ovarian epithelial adenocarcinoma, higher microvessel counts in the primary ovarian tumor or omental metastases may serve as a prognostic indicator for survival.

Conclusions: Similar to other malignant diseases, angiogenesis appears to play an important role in disease progression and survival in patients with gynecologic malignancies. Preliminary data indicate angiogenesis may serve as a prognostic indicator in vulvar and cervical squamous cell carcinomas and endometrial and ovarian adenocarcinomas. These findings may lead to future application of therapeutic trials with antiangiogenic factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood supply*
  • Adenocarcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood supply*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / blood supply*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / blood supply