Adjuvant treatment of patients with colorectal cancer is hampered by a lack of reliable prognostic factors in addition to the clinicopathological staging system. A poorly defined but considerable fraction of Astler–Coller stage B patients will experience tumour recurrence, and some of the stage C patients will probably survive for a prolonged time after surgery without adjuvant treatment. Assessing parameters related to tumour angiogenesis has provided valuable prognostic information in different tumour types. The formation of new microvessels is part of the malignant phenotype in the majority of tumours. Alterations in tumour-suppressor genes, such as the p53 gene, or oncogenes, such as the ras gene, have been found to be responsible for changing the local balance of pro- and antiangiogenic factors in favour of the former. In this prospective study, intratumoral microvessel density (IMD) was assessed by immunostaining tissue sections for CD31 and counting individual microvessels in selected and highly vascular regions in specimens of 145 colorectal cancer patients. p53 protein overexpression was semiquantitatively determined after immunohistochemistry. In both uni- and multivariate analysis, high IMD was significantly associated with shorter survival in the patients undergoing surgery with curative intent (Astler–Coller stages A–C). p53 added prognostic power to IMD, both in Astler–Coller stage B and stage C patients. An association between IMD and mode of metastasis was also noted. High IMD was strongly associated with the incidence of haematogenous metastasis during follow-up, but not with the presence of lymphogenic metastasis observed at surgery. This study confirms the results of previous retrospective analyses of IMD and survival in colorectal cancer and warrants a clinical validation by randomizing stage B tumour patients with high IMD and p53 overexpression between adjuvant treatment or not.
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Vermeulen, P., Eynden, G., Huget, P. et al. Prospective study of intratumoral microvessel density, p53 expression and survival in colorectal cancer. Br J Cancer 79, 316–322 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjc.6690051
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