Aims The assessment of lymphatic vessel density (LVD) has been suggested as a tool to determine the metastatic risk of neoplasias. On this premise, the authors aimed to verify whether progression risk of stage I colorectal cancer may be related to LVD. The authors also evaluated and correlated vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A expression with LVD revealed in the same cases in order to investigate its potential lymphangiogenic role in the early stage colorectal cancer.
Methods LVD and VEGF immunoexpression were analysed and compared in series of 29 stage I surgically resected colorectal carcinomas obtained from patients showing disease progression and in a cohort of 23 stage I colorectal cancers from patients with no evidence of disease progression. The prognostic value of LVD and of VEGF expression on the progression-free survival to colorectal cancer was investigated.
Results A high density of peritumoural lymphatics (P-LVD) was significantly associated with high VEGF expression and disease progression. Moreover, high P-LVD and high VEGF expression were significant negative prognostic parameters associated with a shorter disease-free interval in stage I colorectal cancer.
Conclusions If our findings are further confirmed in other studies, the assessment of P-LVD on surgical specimens might be used as a tool to identify patients with stage I colorectal cancer at higher risk of progression in order to submit them to adjuvant therapies. Since P-LVD seems to show a VEGF-A mediated regulation in stage I colorectal cancer, therapies targeting this factor might be exploited to reduce lymphangiogenesis and the progression risk of this neoplasia.
- colorectal carcinoma
- TNM stage
- prognosis, colorectal cancer
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Dedicated to my daughter, Arianna, who was born on 25 July 2010.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the Local Ethics Committee of University of Messina.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.