The purpose of this study was to evaluate cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in epithelial ovarian tumors and its correlation with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and p53 expression. Immunohistochemical studies with anti-COX-2, anti-VEGF, and anti-p53 antibodies were carried out in 54 malignant and 23 borderline epithelial ovarian tumors. Elevated COX-2 expression was detected in 77.8% of ovarian carcinomas, which was significantly higher than that of borderline tumors (26.1%) (P < 0.001). In ovarian carcinomas, there was no significant correlation between COX-2 expression and other clinicopathologic features. Elevated VEGF expression was detected in 74.1% of ovarian carcinomas, and p53 expression was found in 64.8% of ovarian carcinomas. COX-2 expression was statistically correlated with elevated VEGF expression (P < 0.001) and p53 positivity (P < 0.05). On a univariate analysis, FIGO stage (P < 0.0001), histologic type (P= 0.0104), and COX-2 expression (P= 0.0135) were significant prognostic factors for overall survival. In a multivariate analysis, FIGO stage (P < 0.0001) was the only independent prognostic factor for poor survival. These findings suggest that COX-2 may play a role in the progression of epithelial ovarian tumors and that COX-2 expression may contribute to ovarian tumor angiogenesis by stimulating VEGF expression. p53 may be responsible for the regulation of COX-2 expression.
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