Angiogenesis is of vital importance during the development and progression of solid tumors. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a major regulator of angiogenesis and could be produced by some cancer cells. To investigate the clinical relevance of VEGF in the tumorigenesis of human thyroid, an immunohistochemical study was performed on archival materials of follicular adenomas (n = 13), Hürthle cell adenomas (n = 6), papillary carcinomas (n = 76), follicular carcinomas (n = 12), Hürthle cell carcinomas (n = 2), and anaplastic carcinomas (n = 8). Patterns of VEGF expression were analyzed in relation to histologic subtypes of thyroid tumors and were correlated to biologic indicators of papillary carcinoma. All papillary carcinomas and Hürthle cell neoplasms revealed a strong, diffuse staining reaction, whereas anaplastic carcinoma usually exhibited weak and infrequent immunoreactivity. VEGF levels were usually higher in follicular adenomas than in follicular carcinomas. With regard to prognostic value, VEGF expression did not correlate with tumor size, extent of invasion, or scores on the AGES system (i.e., patient age, tumor size, histologic grade, tumor extent, distant metastasis) or the MACIS system (i.e., metastasis, age, completeness of resection, invasion, tumor size) for papillary carcinomas (p > 0.05, respectively). The results of the current study indicate that VEGF may play a role in the development of human thyroid cancer. Determination of the angiogenic phenotype may have limited prognostic value for patients with papillary carcinoma.
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