, Volume 437, Issue 6, pp 611-617

Assessment of tumor angiogenesis in invasive breast carcinomas: absence of correlation with prognosis and pathological factors

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Different retrospective studies have shown that microvessel counting (MVC) is an independent prognostic marker for clinical outcome in breast cancer. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic value of MVC alone or in association with classical clinicopathological parameters, as well as the reproducibility of the technique. We analyzed a retrospective series of 216 cases of breast carcinoma. Tissue sections were stained for Factor-VIII-related antigen. Microvessel quantification was performed at ×400 magnification in the three most vascular areas of the tumors (hot spots). Mean and highest values were studied. Furthermore, a semi-quantitative evaluation of MVC was performed by use of an image-analysis system. The effect of multiple factors on survival was tested under a Cox multivariate proportional hazards model. In ten cases, a study of the reproducibility was done by evaluating MVC in different sections of the same block and in different blocks of a same tumor. There was no association between MVC (determined at a microscopic level or by image analysis) and overall survival or relapse-free survival. No association was found with tumor size, tumor grade, and lymph-node status. The study of reproducibility showed a very high intra-tumoral variation of MVC. The intra-individual coefficient of variation (CV) varied between 20 and 80%. This study did not show any significant correlation between angiogenesis, as assessed by MVC, and relapse-free survival or overall survival in infiltrating breast carcinomas. The low reproducibility of the MVC for the same tumors suggests that this technique must still be optimized before routine application.

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