Circulating Growth and Angiogenic Factors and Lymph Node Status in Early-stage Breast Cancer - A Pilot Study

Anticancer Res. 2016 Aug;36(8):4209-14.


Aim: To evaluate the possibility of selected biomarkers for breast cancer diagnostics and/or treatment monitoring, lymph node (LN) status determination and clinical decision regarding axillary node dissection.

Patients and methods: Two hundred and eleven patients with malignant breast cancer and 42 age-matched healthy controls were enrolled. Serum insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP3) and plasma epidermal growth factor (EGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), osteoprotegerin (OPG) and osteopontin (OPN) were measured. We compared patients versus controls, patients with negative versus positive lymph node and patients with and without axillary lymph node dissection (ALND).

Results: We found elevated IGF1 and VEGF levels in patients with lymph node metastases compared to controls (p=0.0179 and p=0.0091, respectively) and in patients with ALND (p=0.0337 and p=0.0438, respectively).

Conclusion: Circulating IGF1 and VEGF levels may predict the presence of lymph node metastases and help in the decision to avoid ALND in patients with early-stage breast cancer.

Keywords: Breast cancer; IGF1; VEGF; axillary lymph node dissection; biomarkers; lymph node status.

MeSH terms

  • Axilla
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / secondary
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / blood*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteopontin / blood
  • Pilot Projects
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / blood*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • IGF1 protein, human
  • IGFBP3 protein, human
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3
  • SPP1 protein, human
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Osteopontin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I