Evaluation of vascular endothelial growth factor as a prognostic marker for local relapse in early-stage breast cancer patients treated with breast-conserving therapy

Meena S. Moran, Qifeng Yang, Sharad Goyal, Lyndsay Harris, Gina Chung, Bruce G. Haffty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is an important protein involved in the process of angiogenesis that has been found to correlate with relapse-free and overall survival in breast cancer, predominantly in locally advanced and metastatic disease. A paucity of data is available on the prognostic implications of VEGF in early-stage breast cancer; specifically, its prognostic value for local relapse after breast-conserving therapy (BCT) is largely unknown. The purpose of our study was to assess VEGF expression in a cohort of early-stage breast cancer patients treated with BCT and to correlate the clinical and pathologic features and outcomes with overexpression of VEGF. Methods and Materials: After obtaining institutional review board approval, the paraffin specimens of 368 patients with early-stage breast cancer treated with BCT between 1975 and 2005 were constructed into tissue microarrays with twofold redundancy. The tissue microarrays were stained for VEGF and read by a trained pathologist, who was unaware of the clinical details, as positive or negative according the standard guidelines. The clinical and pathologic data, long-term outcomes, and results of VEGF staining were analyzed. Results: The median follow-up for the entire cohort was 6.5 years. VEGF expression was positive in 56 (15%) of the 368 patients. Although VEGF expression did not correlate with age at diagnosis, tumor size, nodal status, histologic type, family history, estrogen receptor/progesterone receptor status, or HER-2 status, a trend was seen toward increased VEGF expression in the black cohort (26% black vs. 13% white, p =.068). Within the margin-negative cohort, VEGF did not predict for local relapse-free survival (RFS) (96% vs. 95%), nodal RFS (100% vs. 100%), distant metastasis-free survival (91% vs. 92%), overall survival (92% vs. 97%), respectively (all p >.05). Subset analysis revealed that VEGF was highly predictive of local RFS in node-positive, margin-negative patients (86% vs. 100%, p =.029) on univariate analysis, but it did not retain its significance on multivariate analysis (hazard ratio, 2.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.804-7.920, p =.113). No other subgroups were identified in which a correlation was found between VEGF expression and local relapse. Conclusion: To our knowledge, our study is the first to assess the prognostic value of VEGF with the endpoint of local relapse in early-stage breast cancer treated with BCT, an important question given the recent increased use of targeted antiangiogenic agents in early-stage breast cancer. Our study results suggest that VEGF is not an independent predictor of local RFS after BCT, but additional, larger studies specifically analyzing the endpoint of VEGF and local relapse are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1236-1243
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast-conserving therapy
  • Local relapse
  • Molecular markers
  • VEGF
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor


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