Angiogenesis: A prognostic determinant in pancreatic cancer?
Angiogenesis has been associated with disease progression in many solid tumours, however the statement that tumours need angiogenesis to grow, invade and metastasise seems no longer applicable to all tumours or to all tumour subtypes. Prognostic studies in pancreatic cancer are conflicting. In fact, pancreatic cancer has been suggested an example of a tumour in which angiogenesis is less essential for tumour progression. The aim of the present study was therefore to measure angiogenesis in two anatomically closely related however prognostically different types of pancreatic cancer, pancreatic head and periampullary cancer, and investigate its relation with outcome. Vessels were stained by CD31 on original paraffin embedded tissue from 206 patients with microscopic radical resection (R0) of pancreatic head (n = 98) or periampullary cancer (n = 108). Angiogenesis was quantified by microvessel density (MVD) and measured by computerised image analysis of three randomly selected fields and investigated for associations with recurrence free survival (RFS), cancer specific survival (CSS), overall survival (OS) and conventional prognostic factors. MVD was heterogeneous both between and within tumours. A higher MVD was observed in periampullary cancers compared with pancreatic head cancers (p <.01). Furthermore, MVD was associated with lymph node involvement in pancreatic head (p =.014), but not in periampullary cancer (p =.55). Interestingly, MVD was not associated with RFS, CSS or with OS. In conclusion, angiogenesis is higher in periampullary cancer and although associated with nodal involvement in pancreatic head cancer, pancreatic cancer prognosis seems indeed angiogenesis independent.