Microvessel density >or=60 does not predict for outcome after radiation treatment for locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: results of a correlative study from the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 90-03 Trial

Am J Clin Oncol. 2007 Aug;30(4):406-19. doi: 10.1097/COC.0b013e3180342fd4.


Objectives: To assess whether microvessel density (MVD), an immunohistochemical marker for tumor vascularity, predicts for radiotherapy (RT) outcome in locally advanced HNSCC patients.

Methods: A total of 459 patients, enrolled on the RTOG 90-03 trial, had biopsy specimens submitted, and a value for MVD determined, prior to definitive RT. 450 patients were analyzable for this study. Tumor microvessels were stained for factor VIII-related antigen using a standard immunoperoxidase method. The mean number of stained microvessel profiles, from three x200 fields containing the highest MVD (hot spot), was recorded as the MVD. A prospective value of >or=60 was chosen as the threshold for high MVD, tumor vascularity.

Results: The median follow-up for the analyzable patients with MVD assessment was 22.0 months and 79.1 months for all living patients. There were no differences concerning the pretreatment characteristics between those RTOG 90-03 patients with a value for MVD and those without a value for MVD. Thus, the present study cohort possessed comparable characteristics with the entire RTOG 90-03 population. MVD values ranged from 5 to 80, with a median value of 30. Only 37 of 450 (8.2%) patients possessed an MVD >or=60. There were no outcome differences for patients with MVD <60 versus >or=60 on multivariate analysis for time to local-regional failure (P = 0.89), time to distant metastasis (P = 0.80), disease-free survival (P = 0.46), and overall survival (P = 0.39).

Conclusions: In this large, correlative study, a MVD >or=60, ie, high tumor vascularity, did not predict for outcome in locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients treated with radiotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood supply*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Survival Rate
  • von Willebrand Factor / metabolism*


  • von Willebrand Factor