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Br J Cancer. 1998 Nov;78(9):1203-7.

Vascular endothelial growth factor in premenopausal women--indicator of the best time for breast cancer surgery?

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  • 1Academic Surgical Unit, University of Hull, Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK.


Timing of surgery in premenopausal patients with breast cancer remains controversial. Angiogenesis is essential for tumour growth and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is one of the most potent angiogenic cytokines. We aimed to determine whether the study of VEGF in relation to the menstrual cycle could help further the understanding of this issue of surgical intervention. Fourteen premenopausal women were recruited, along with three post-menopausal women, a woman on an oral contraceptive pill and a single male subject. Between eight and 11 samples were taken per person, over one menstrual cycle (over 1 month in the five controls) and analysed for sex hormones and VEGF165. Serum VEGF was significantly lower in the luteal phase and showed a significant negative correlation with progesterone in all 14 premenopausal women. No inter-sample variations of VEGF were noted in the controls. Serum from both phases of the cycle from one subject was added to MCF-7 breast cancer cells; VEGF expression in the supernatant was lower in the cells to which the luteal phase serum was added. The lowering of a potent angiogenic cytokine in the luteal phase suggests a possible decreased potential for micrometastasis establishment in that phase. This fall in VEGF may be an effect of progesterone and should be the focus of future studies.

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