Plasma insulin-like growth factor-I and serum IGF-binding protein 3 can be associated with the progression of breast cancer, and predict the risk of recurrence and the probability of survival in African-American and Hispanic women

Oncology. 1999 Nov;57(4):330-40. doi: 10.1159/000012052.


In vitro studies have shown that insulin-like growth factor (IGF) is a mitogen for breast cancer cells. However, the associations of plasma IGF-I with tumor histopathology in high-risk groups need further investigation. We hypothesize that plasma IGF-I and serum IGFBP3 concentrations in breast cancer patients may provide useful information on the progression of their disease, and determine the probability of recurrence and survival. We have carried out a retrospective study on 130 minority breast cancer patients. Plasma IGF-I and serum IGFBP3 were correlated with tumor histopathology, menopausal status, treatment modality, recurrence rates, and probability of survival. Plasma IGF-I and serum IGFBP3 were measured by radioimmunoassay. Our studies show that breast cancer patients have elevated plasma IGF-I and serum IGFBP3 levels. In addition we observed the following: IGF-I did not correlate with age and nodal stage. IGF-I and IGFBP3 increased with tumor size (T4). IGF-I did not correlate with estrogen receptor status, but did increase in progesterone-receptor-positive patients. IGF-I levels were higher in premenopausal patients and in women with cancer recurrence. Tamoxifen reduced IGF-I levels significantly and reduced the risk of recurrence. The survival probability was greater in patients with plasma IGF-I levels <120 ng/ml. In conclusion, lowering of plasma IGF-I may offer the following benefits: (a) reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in high-risk groups; (b) slow the progression of breast cancer in patients at early stages of cancer; (c) lower the risk of recurrence, and (d) increase the probability of survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Blacks
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Survival Rate
  • Whites


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I