Purpose: Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is one of the most potent lymphangiogenic members of the VEGF family that has been associated with lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). In this study, we evaluated the relationship of preoperative serum VEGF-C (sVEGF-C) and survival in CRC patients.
Materials and methods: sVEGF-C levels were determined, prior to resection, in a cohort of 120 newly presenting patients with CRC by quantitative ELISA.
Results: Patients who had positive lymph node involvement and higher Dukes' staging (C&D) were associated with shorter time to metastases as expected (p = 0.002 and 0.001, respectively). Patients with distant metastasis had significantly lower levels of sVEGF-C than those without histopathologically proven disease (p = 0.004). However, there was no significant difference in the median sVEGF-C level in patients with or without lymph node metastatic involvement (91 pg/ml vs. 124 pg/ml; p = 0.81). Patients with a sVEGF-C concentration less than the median value (103 pg/ml) showed a poorer overall survival than patients with sVEGF-C levels greater than the median; but this was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: In this study, low sVEGF-C levels are associated with distant metastasis; hence, preoperative levels may aid in the selection of CRC patients who require further investigation.