Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and endostatin stimulate and inhibit tumour angiogenesis respectively. Recent studies have demonstrated the prognostic value of serum levels of both VEGF and endostatin in patients with various types of cancer. Their significance in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear.


Serum VEGF and endostatin levels were measured by enzyme immunoassay in 108 patients with HCC before surgical resection and in 20 healthy controls. Preoperative serum VEGF and endostatin levels were correlated with clinicopathological features and long-term survival.


Serum VEGF levels in patients with HCC were significantly higher than those in controls, but serum levels of endostatin were similar in the two groups. High serum levels of VEGF, but not endostatin, were significantly associated with venous invasion and advanced tumour stage. Patients with a serum VEGF level higher than median (over 245·0 pg/ml) had significantly worse overall and disease-free survival than those with a lower level (P = 0·012 and P = 0·022 respectively). On multivariate analysis, serum VEGF level was an independent prognostic factor (hazard ratio 1·86 (95 per cent confidence interval 1·10 to 3·92); P = 0·032). Serum endostatin levels did not have significant prognostic influence on overall or disease-free survival.


A high serum level of VEGF is a predictor of poor outcome after resection of HCC. Serum VEGF, but not endostatin, may be a useful prognostic marker in patients with HCC. Copyright © 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.