Background: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is an aggressive malignant tumor of mesothelial origin associated with asbestos exposure. MPM has a limited response to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy so early diagnosis of MPM is very important. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a potent mitogen for the vascular endothelium, is also known to be an autocrine growth factor for MPM. Here, we investigated the pleural effusion VEGF levels in patients with MPM and compared them to those of a population with a non-malignant pleuritis or lung cancer involving malignant pleural effusion.
Methods: The pleural effusion VEGF concentrations were measured in 46 MPM patients and 45 individuals with non-MPM individuals (25 individuals with non-malignant pleural effusions, and 20 individuals with lung cancer involving malignant pleural effusion).
Results: We demonstrated that patients with MPM had significantly higher pleural effusion VEGF levels than a population with non-malignant pleuritis or lung cancer involving malignant pleural effusion, and the patients with advanced stage MPM showed higher levels of VEGF than the early stage MPM patients. The difference in overall survival between the groups with pleural effusion VEGF levels lower and higher than the assumed cut-off of 2000pg/ml was significant.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that the pleural effusion VEGF concentration could be useful as an aid for the diagnosis of MPM and as a prognostic factor.
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