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Breast Cancer. 2007;14(2):163-73.

Vascular endothelial growth factor and bevacitumab in breast cancer.

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Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan.


Cancer development requires neovascularization. The level of angiogenic activity in breast cancer has been shown to be a determinant of disease progression and survival. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a one of the most essential pro-angiogenic growth factors expressed by most cancer-cell types and certain tumor stromal cells. Blocking the action of VEGF appears to be a promising anti-angiogenic approach to treat multiple types of solid tumors including breast cancer, and clinical trials using agents which target VEGF were launched beginning in the late 1990s. The effort reached fruition in 2005 with the first report of a large, prospective randomized trial of anti-VEGF therapy in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC), which demonstrated the benefit of adding the monoclonal antibody bevacizumab to the chemotherapeutic agent paclitaxel. The success of this trial provided proof of principle that inhibition of angiogenesis has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of treatment of this disease. Adjuvant therapy trials are in development with bevacizumab and numerous other anti-VEGF agents are now being tested in patients with breast cancer in various settings. Nevertheless, since bevacizumab monotherapy has minimal activity, a question for future therapeutic development of these agents in breast cancer relates to the interaction between anti-angiogenic strategies and cytotoxic therapies. Further research is still needed for complete understanding of the exact role of VEGF and angiogenesis in health and disease, to take best advantage and avoid the adverse effects of anti-angiogenic therapy.

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