Tumor Growth Patterns and Angiogenesis

Cecile G. Colpaert and Peter B. Vermeulen

Translational Cancer Research Group, University Hospital Antwerp and General Hospital Sint-Augustinus,

University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

The cancer cells of a neoplasm invade preexisting host tissues and can thereby elicit the formation of reactive vascular tumor stroma, composed of extracellular matrix and host cells including fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and inflammatory cells. This newly generated stroma shows many similarities with granulation tissue that is formed in wound healing. Although cancer research in past decades has mainly focused on the cancer cell itself, there is growing awareness that the surrounding vascular stroma conditions include both local tumor progression and the metastatic process.

Routine pathological examination of human carcinomas reveals striking differences in the way cancer cells interact with host tissues, that is, the growth pattern of the cancer cells. In several primary and metastatic carcinomas, different growth patterns reflect different degrees of reactive vascular tumor stroma formation. Some growth patterns imply destruction of the preexisting tissues and intense remodeling of the stroma, whereas in other growth patterns there is remarkable preservation of the preexisting architecture and no or minimal new stroma formation. This has important prognostic and predictive implications.

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