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Keywords:

  • vascular endothelial growth factor;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • screening;
  • angiogenesis;
  • metastasis

Abstract

The importance of tumor angiogenesis in tumor biology is now widely accepted. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly vascular tumor, and angiogenesis is believed to play a considerable role in its development and progression. The authors reviewed the role of circulating vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in screening for HCC and in risk stratification and treatment monitoring. They searched the world medical literature by accessing MEDLINE and PubMed for articles on: 1) the utility of circulating VEGF for HCC screening in patients with cirrhosis; 2) the role of circulating VEGF as a predictor of the invasive potential of HCC; and 3) monitoring anti-HCC treatment effects by serial measurements of circulating VEGF. They found evidence to support a potential role for VEGF in screening and surveillance of HCC. They also found support for developing the use of VEGF in the monitoring of treatment outcomes. Several studies suggested that the circulating VEGF level may be an independent prognostic marker in HCC. Further studies are needed to determine the utility of circulating VEGF in screening of patients with cirrhosis and to determine its potential role as a prognostic and predictive biomarker in patients with HCC. Cancer 2009. © 2009 American Cancer Society.