Tumor angiogenesis has recently been related to tumor growth and metastasis, which determine the clinical outcome of the patient. This study was designed to determine the relationship between angiogenesis in primary squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) of the head and neck and the development of recurrent or metastatic disease, or both. Different SCC of the head and neck were studied. Microvessels were selectively stained using a monoclonal antibody for factor VIII. Microvessel counts were performed in the tumor, in the tissues immediately adjacent, and in normal tissues of similar topographies. Microvessel counts were then correlated with clinical outcome (development of recurrent or metastatic disease, or both). Recurrent or metastatic disease, or both, developed in patients with high microvessel counts (mean, 121.25) in the tissues adjacent to the tumor 7 to 16 months after initial treatment. Those with low microvessel counts (mean, 33.75) were disease-free for 16 months to 6 years (p < 0.01). Microvessel counts inside the tumor were also higher in those in whom recurrences or metastasis, or both, developed, but were not statistically significant. In this study, angiogenesis was directly related to clinical outcome. Thus, angiogenesis may be an independent predictor of recurrent or metastatic disease, or both, which could help in the selection of patients with SCC of the head and neck for aggressive therapy.
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