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Immunohistochemical measurement of tumor vascular endothelial growth factor in breast cancer. A more reliable predictor of tumor stage than microvessel density or serum vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Department of Pathology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin.


Microvessel density counting is commonly proposed as a method of assessing angiogenesis. However, results have been difficult to reproduce because of many methodological inconsistencies. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), an angiogenic regulator, is also a poor prognostic indicator in breast cancer, correlating in many studies with microvessel density. In this study, VEGF and microvessel density counting were examined as methods of assessing angiogenesis in breast cancer and correlated with tumor stage. A representative tumor section was stained with anti-CD34 and anti-VEGF. Microvessel density was evaluated using the manual "hot-spot" procedure and a semiquantitative image analysis system. Serum VEGF levels were available from an additional nine patients. Results were analyzed using Kendall's tau correlation. Tumor stage correlated with tumor VEGF, but not with microvessel "hot-spot" or vessel counts. There was no correlation between scores obtained from the manual or semiquantitative methods. Serum VEGF did not correlate with either tumor VEGF or tumor stage. The prognostic importance of VEGF in invasive breast cancer is associated with tumor stage. Measurement of tumor VEGF, as an indicator of angiogenesis, is more reliable prognostically than measurement of microvessel density or serum VEGF. Routine measurement of microvessel density in breast cancer is less reliable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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