, Volume 14, Issue 12, pp 3558-3565
Date: 11 Oct 2007

Strong Immunohistochemical Expression of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Predicts Overall Survival in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

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Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has high morbidity and mortality, and its relationship with tumor angiogenesis as measured by mircovessel density (MVD) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression has shown mixed results, with some, but not others, reporting correlation with outcome.


A retrospective study of 186 patients with HNSCC was performed. Patients were evaluated for MVD and VEGF and to correlate the levels with clinical parameters, including age at diagnosis, sex, site of tumor, stage, survival (disease free and overall), pathological tumor grade, and the presence of lymph node metastases.


The 186 cancers included the following sites: oral tongue (n = 69), palate (n = 9), maxillary sinus (n = 8), floor of mouth (n = 13), oropharynx (n = 27), hypopharynx (n = 26) and larynx (n = 34). Over three-quarters of patients had advanced tumor (stage III/IV) and 58.6% had lymph node metastases. MVD and VEGF were assessed in 166 and 164 cases, respectively, but these were not correlated with site and grade. The 3-year overall and disease-free survival rates were 55.4% and 53.2%, respectively. Both univariate and multivariate survival analysis showed that advanced T stage, nodal metastasis, and strong VEGF intensity were independent adverse predictors for overall and disease-free survival. In stage IV disease, strong VEGF immunoreactivity was found to be the single adverse factor affecting the overall survival and a contributory factor for disease-free survival.


VEGF immunoreactivity is a strong predictor of adverse outcome, particularly in locoregionally advanced disease.