Background: Angiogenesis is essential for the growth of solid tumors. Intratumoral microvessel count, which represents a measure of tumor angiogenesis, has been associated with the overall survival of patients with a variety of malignancies. However, little is known about the significance of neovascularization in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Methods: In this study, the role of tumor angiogenesis as a prognostic indicator was examined in esophageal squamous cell carcinomas from 43 patients. Vascular endothelial cells were stained with anti-CD34 and anti-von Willebrand factor monoclonal antibodies before being quantitated by light microscopy (x 200).
Results: Significant correlation between vessel counts for two antibodies was observed, although counts for CD34 were approximately three times higher. Intratumoral vessel counts were significantly higher in tumors with deeper penetration. Multivariate analyses indicated that vessel counts determined by either CD34 or von Willebrand factor staining, as well as lymph node metastasis, were identified as significant and independent prognostic factors in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that tumor angiogenesis is closely related to the overall survival of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. The extent of tumor vascularity may serve as a reliable prognostic marker with which patients at risk for recurrence can be identified.