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According to an article recently published in the Lancet Oncology, microvessel density, a measure of angiogenesis, does not predict outcomes among patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of deaths worldwide. Non–small cell lung cancer accounts for approximately 75–80% of all lung cancers; “non–small cell” refers to the type of cancer within the lung where the cancer originated. Because long-term survival for patients with lung cancer remains suboptimal, researchers are attempting to individualize treatment options by understanding specific variables that may affect prognoses among individual patients.

Cancer cells need oxygen and food to survive, both of which are supplied by blood vessels. Angiogenesis refers to the formation of new blood vessels, a process that appears essential to the growth and spread of cancer cells. Research has recently focused on agents that target the angiogenesis process by targeting the blood vessels that supply the cancer. The goal of this approach is to “starve” cancer cells of nutrients. Results from treatment including these agents have produced mixed results.

Researchers from England recently reviewed data to determine whether microvessel density, a measure of angiogenesis, had a prognostic role in patients with NSCLC (a greater microvessel density means greater angiogenesis). Previous studies regarding an association between prognosis and microvessel density have provided inconsistent results.

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This study included data from 3,200 patients from 17 medical centers who had NSCLC that had not spread to distant sites in the body. These cancers had been treated surgically.

Overall, microvessel density did not appear to be linked with prognosis for these patients.

The researchers concluded that the degree of angiogenesis as measured by microvessel density does not provide any prognostic information for patients with NSCLC who undergo surgery for treatment of their disease.

Reference: Trivella M, Pezzella F, Pastorino U, et al. Microvessel density as a prognostic factor in non–small cell lung carcinoma: a meta-analysis of individual patient data. Lancet Oncology. 2007;8:488-499.

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