Background: Lymph node metastasis is the single greatest predictor of recurrence in laryngeal cancer. Prognostic factors are needed to target patients who may benefit from adjuvant therapy. Tumor angiogenesis correlates with metastasis in breast, bladder, and oral cavity cancer and may have prognostic value in other tumors.
Methods: In order to examine the relationship of tumor angiogenesis to recurrence, 51 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx were reviewed. In a blinded design, previously sectioned slides were chosen for advanced tumor and highest vessel concentration. Samples were cut and immunocytochemically stained for CD-31 (an endothelial marker). A computer image analyzer quantitated the percent area of staining. Variables were statistically examined against recurrence.
Results: Patients were stratified by percent tumor staining. Nodal involvement was seen in 9 (36%) patients with tumor staining < or = 20% and in 20 (77%) with tumor staining > 20% (P = 0.003). Patients with < or = 20% staining and without metastasis had a 13% rate of recurrence whereas patients with > 20% staining and without metastasis had a 67% rate of recurrence (P = 0.025).
Conclusions: Though nodal status was suggestive of predictability, only angiogenesis is a statistically significant predictor of recurrence in node negative patients (P = 0.025). Angiogenesis shows strong correlation with regional recurrence and may be used as an independent prognostic indicator to determine clinically node negative patients who may be at higher risk for metastasis and require adjuvant therapy.