Background: In breast cancer, vascular endothelial growth factor C, transforming growth factor β, placental growth factor, and fibroblast growth factor (acidic and basic) promote angiogenesis and metastases. We tested the hypothesis that a propofol-paravertebral anesthetic (PPA) technique would attenuate postoperative changes in these angiogenic factors to a greater extent than balanced general anesthesia (GA) and morphine analgesia in women undergoing surgery for primary breast cancer.
Method: Forty women with primary breast cancer undergoing surgical excision were randomized to receive either standard GA or PPA technique. Venous blood was sampled before and at 24 h after surgery and serum analyzed. The primary endpoint was a preoperative versus postoperative change in vascular endothelial growth factor C and transforming growth factor β concentrations.
Results: Using a visual analog scale (median [25-75% interquartile range]), PPA patients (1 [0-2]) had less pain at 2 h (P = 0.02) than did GA patients (3 [2-5]). The mean postoperative change in vascular endothelial growth factor C concentrations among GA patients was 733 versus 27 pg/ml for PPA patients (difference, 706 [97.5% CI, 280-1,130] pg/ml, P = 0.001). In contrast, the mean postoperative change in transforming growth factor β concentration among GA patients was -163 versus 146 pg/ml for PPA patients (difference, 309 [97.5% CI, -474 to -143] pg/ml, P = 0.005). Concentrations of placental growth factor and fibroblast growth factor, both acidic and basic, were undetectable in serum.
Conclusion: Anesthetic technique influences serum concentrations of factors associated with angiogenesis in primary breast cancer surgery.