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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 2;91(3):498-503.

Clinical significance of VEGF-C status in tumour cells and stromal macrophages in non-small cell lung cancer patients.

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Department of Thoracic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


Recent experimental studies have revealed that tumour-associated stromal macrophages as well as tumour cells express vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C), which plays important roles in lymphangiogenesis, which is a critical factor in the progression of many malignant tumours including non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, no clinical study on VEGF-C expression in both stromal macrophages and tumour cells has been reported, and we conducted the present study to address the issue in resected NSCLC. A total of 206 patients with completely resected pathologic stage I-IIIA NSCLC were retrospectively reviewed. Expression of VEGF-C in primary lung tumour was assessed immunohistochemically. Expression of VEGF-C in tumour cells was high in 125 patients (60.7%), and that in stromal macrophages was positive in 136 patients (71.2%). The status of VEGF-C in tumour cells or in stromal macrophages was not correlated with nodal status or angiogenesis. The 5-year survival rate of high tumoral VEGF-C patients (60.7%) was significantly lower than that of low tumoral VEGF-C patients (39.3%) (P=0.046), and a multivariate analysis confirmed that tumoral VEGF-C status was a significant and independent prognostic factor. Moreover, tumour showing high VEGF-A and VEGF-C expression in tumour cells showed the poorest prognosis (5-year survival rate, 45.1%). The status of VEGF-C in stromal macrophages was not correlated with the prognosis. In conclusion, tumoral VEGF-C status, not stromal VEGF-C status, was a significant prognostic factor in resected NSCLC.

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