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What is the role of VEGF in ovarian cancer?

David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
The production of malignant ascites (fluid in the abdomen causing abdominal distension) seen in ovarian cancer has been associated with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) activity. Both metastatic and benign ovarian tumors have been shown to express elevated levels of VEGF. Higher levels are also found in stage I ovarian cancer when compared with nonmalignant disease. Levels were higher still in late staged disease in comparison with early staged. When combined with cancer antigen 125 (CA125) the specificity is low, but sensitivity is 96%.

As lower levels of VEGF are found in postoperative patients compared with preoperative individuals, monitoring of response to treatment could be a potential role of this protein, that is, if it is possible to overcome the low specificity obtained when VEGF is added to biomarker panels. In addition, higher levels are found in patients with metastatic versus locally restricted disease. This suggests a potential role of VEGF in determining prognosis.

Also associated with VEGF are a poor prognosis and decreases in overall survival and disease-free interval.

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