Background: Vascular enumeration using antibodies to Factor VIII has been reported to be an independent prognostic indicator of invasive breast carcinoma.
Methods: To eliminate potential subjectivity in distinguishing between individual vessels, especially in areas of tangled capillaries, total endothelial area (EA) was assessed using a Samba 4000 image analyzer. One hundred seventy-eight invasive breast carcinomas (Stage 1 and 2, mean follow-up: 71 months) were immumostained for the presence of CD34, the human hematopoietic progenitor cell antigen also present in endothelium, and EA was quantitated within 5 adjacent 20X fields (0.74 mm2). Additionally, these same vessels were manually counted from the image analyzer. Manual counts were also made from a photomicrograph representative of a single 10X field (1.06 mm2).
Results: High grade carcinomas contained greater endothelial area than low grade carcinomas (P = 0.0001). Endothelial area was prognostically significant (P = 0.004) in univariate analysis of disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS), as were stage of disease, tumor size, and combined histologic grade (P < or = 0.024). Manual vessel counts from the monitor were significant for OS only. Manual vessel counts from photomicrographs showed no statistically significant association with DFS or OS. In multivariate analysis, EA, but not vessel enumeration, remained as an independent predictor for OS (lymph node negative patients only, n = 87) and for DFS (lymph node positive patients only, n = 91). For the entire group of patients (lymph node negative and lymph node positive) independent predictors of DFS and OS were tumor grade and size (P < or = 0.006).
Conclusions: Of the three methods used to evaluate tumor angiogenesis, total endothelial area, as objectively evaluated by image analysis, was the only independent prognostic indicator for OS for patients with lymph node negative invasive breast carcinoma.