Gastric cancer is the second cancer causing death worldwide. The five-year survival for this malignancy is below 25% and few parameters have shown an impact on the prognosis of the disease. The receptor for urokinase plasminogen activator (uPAR) is involved in extracellular matrix degradation by mediating cell surface associated plasminogen activation, and its presence on gastric cancer cells is linked to micrometastasis and poor prognosis. Using immunohistochemistry, the prognostic significance of uPAR was evaluated in tissue samples from a retrospective series of 95 gastric cancer patients. uPAR was expressed by neoplastic cells, macrophages, myofibroblasts and neutrophils in both intestinal and diffuse subtypes. No association was demonstrated between the expression of uPAR on cancer cells and histological subtype (p = 0.64) or TNM stage (p = 0.75). Univariate analysis revealed a significant association between the expression of uPAR on tumor cells in the peripheral invasion zone and overall survival of gastric cancer patients (HR = 2.16; 95% CI: 1.13-4.14; p = 0.02). Multivariate analysis showed that uPAR immunoreactivity in cancer cells at the invasive front is an independent prognostic factor for overall survival in gastric cancer (HR = 2.39; 95% CI: 1.22-4.69; p = 0.011). In consequence, scoring of uPAR-positive cancer cells may be a direct measure for the invasive potential of gastric adenocarcinomas.
International Journal of Cancer, 2012, Vol 131, Issue 4