Vasculogenic Mimicry: A Promising Prognosticator in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Esophageal Cancer? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review


Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) is an intratumoral microcirculation pattern formed by aggressive cancer cells, which mediates tumor growth. In this study, we compiled the evidence from studies evaluating whether positive VM status can serve as a prognostic factor to patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) or esophagus (ESCC). Comprehensive systematic searches were conducted using Cochrane Library, Ovid Medline, PubMed, and Scopus databases. We appraised the quality of studies and the potential for bias, and performed random-effect meta-analysis to assess the prognostic impact of VM on the overall survival (OS). Seven studies with 990 patients were eligible, where VM was detected in 34.24% of patients. Positive-VM was strongly associated with poor OS (hazard ratio = 0.50; 95% confidence interval: 0.38-0.64), which remained consistent following the subgroup analysis of the studies. Furthermore, VM was associated with more metastasis to local lymph nodes and more advanced stages of HNSCC and ESCC. In conclusion, this study provides clear evidence showing that VM could serve as a promising prognosticator for patients with either HNSCC or ESCC. Further studies are warranted to assess how VM can be implemented as a reliable staging element in clinical practice and whether it could provide a new target for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number507
Issue number2
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Fields of Science

  • cancer cell-lined vessels
  • esophageal squamous cell carcinoma
  • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • meta-analysis
  • prognosis
  • vasculogenic mimicry
  • 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology

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