Background: Tumor angiogenesis, or new blood vessel formation, is regulated by a balance between pro-angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), and anti-angiogenic factors such as endostatin.
Patients and methods: To investigate this angiogenic balance in soft tissue sarcomas (STS), blood samples were collected from 76 STS patients and 15 healthy controls, and analyzed for VEGF, bFGF and endostatin using quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA).
Results: Forty-one patients (54%) had primary tumors, 20 (26%) had local recurrences and 15 (20%) had metastatic disease with or without local disease. Levels of all three angiogenic factors were highly variable in STS patients. Mean levels of VEGF and bFGF were 12 and 14 times higher, respectively, in patients compared with controls (P<0.0001). VEGF levels correlated with size of tumor, with the highest levels found in tumors >10 cm in size. Patients with metastases had endostatin levels 45% lower than patients without metastases (P=0.047). In 54 patients who underwent resection of primary disease or local recurrence, low pre-operative bFGF level was associated with a higher risk of subsequent recurrence (P=0.044).
Conclusions: STS secrete widely variable levels of angiogenic factors, and levels of specific factors may correlate with extent of disease, predict risk of recurrence and possibly guide the use of anti-angiogenic agents.
Copyright 2004 European Society for Medical Oncology