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Cancer Res. 2000 Jun 1;60(11):2898-905.

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in breast cancer: comparison of plasma, serum, and tissue VEGF and microvessel density and effects of tamoxifen.

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  • 1Imperial Cancer Research Fund Cancer Medicine Research Unit, St James's University Hospital, Leeds, United Kingdom.


The assessment of angiogenesis in breast cancer is of importance as a key indicator of survival and response to therapy. Circulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) measurements may provide a less subjective analysis than microvessel density (MVD) or immunohistochemical analysis of VEGF expression; however, most studies have used serum, which is now known to largely reflect platelet-derived VEGF concentrations. This study examined for the first time both plasma (VEGFp) and serum (VEGFs) VEGF concentrations in 201 blood samples from pre- and postmenopausal healthy controls and from patients with benign breast disease, localized breast cancer, breast cancer in remission, or metastatic breast cancer and related these to other clinicopathological markers. VEGFp but not VEGFs concentrations of patients with localized disease were significantly elevated compared with normal controls (P = 0.016). Patients with metastatic disease had higher VEGFp and VEGFs levels than normal controls (P < 0.001, P = 0.044 respectively), and higher VEGFp, but not VEGFs, than patients with benign disease (P = 0.009) and patients with localized disease (P = 0.004). However, the highest VEGFp and VEGFs concentrations were seen in patients in remission compared with normal controls (P < 0.001 and P = 0.008, respectively). VEGFp concentrations in patients in remission were also higher than in patients with benign disease (P = 0.01) or patients with localized disease (P = 0.005). Tamoxifen treatment was significantly associated with higher circulating and platelet-derived VEGF levels. Circulating VEGF did not correlate with any clinicopathological factor, including MVD or VEGF expression. VEGF expression was significantly correlated with estrogen receptor status and inversely correlated with tumor grade. MVD correlated with tumor size. Tamoxifen-induced increases in VEGF may be important in clinical prognosis or associated pathologies.

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