Background: Unlike other human tumors, gastric cancer remains a great therapeutic challenge since no standardized postoperative treatment exists. Knowledge of molecular pathways determining the behavior of individual gastric tumors seems to be crucial for therapeutic decisions, and evaluation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression might be critical for prognosis, assessment, and identification of patients that could be treated with tailored therapies.
Methods: VEGF and EGFR determination was performed in 88 gastric cancer samples as well as 25 normal gastric mucosa specimens from non-cancer patients using a commercially available immunohistochemistry kit. In all samples, the correlation of VEGF and EGFR expression was investigated with each other, and with other prognostic indicators in all samples, and, finally, with survival rates in 69 patients undergoing potentially curative surgery.
Results: Forty-eight per cent (42 cases) of gastric cancers expressed VEGF, and 44% (39 cases) stained for EGFR. In curatively treated patients, VEGF and EGFR expression was demonstrated to correlate with worse survival in both univariate and multivariate analyses. Molecular profiling was shown to more accurately estimate the risk of cancer-related death than TNM stage, and, of most interest, to allow sorting out high-risk patients within the same stage.
Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that contemporary evaluation of VEGF and EGFR expression may be crucial to select gastric cancer patients with poor prognosis who may benefit of tailored treatments.