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Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2009 Apr;6(4):229-36. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2009.14.

VEGF inhibitors in the treatment of cerebral edema in patients with brain cancer.

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Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA, USA.


Most brain tumors oversecrete vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which leads to an abnormally permeable tumor vasculature. This hyperpermeability allows fluid to leak from the intravascular space into the brain parenchyma, which causes vasogenic cerebral edema and increased interstitial fluid pressure. Increased interstitial fluid pressure has an important role in treatment resistance by contributing to tumor hypoxia and preventing adequate tumor penetration of chemotherapy agents. In addition, edema and the corticosteroids needed to control cerebral edema cause significant morbidity and mortality. Agents that block the VEGF pathway are able to decrease vascular permeability and, thus, cerebral edema, by restoring the abnormal tumor vasculature to a more normal state. Decreasing cerebral edema minimizes the adverse effects of corticosteroids and could improve clinical outcomes. Anti-VEGF agents might also be useful in other cancer-related conditions that increase vascular permeability, such as malignant pleural effusions or ascites.

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