Lymphatic microvessel density and vascular endothelial growth factor-C and -D as prognostic factors in breast cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature
Expression of angiogenic and lymphangiogenic factors by tumors may influence the route of metastatic spread. The angiogenic factor vascular growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is implicated in the development of lymphatic vessels and promotion of lymphatic metastasis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether VEGF-C correlates with lymph node metastasis or prognosis. We assessed VEGF-C expression using immunohistochemistry in 123 invasive breast carcinomas with long-term follow-up. The relationship between VEGF-C expression and lymph node status and other established clinicopathological parameters was assessed. Whether VEGF-C expression plays a prognostic role in breast cancer was also investigated. VEGF-C expression was identified in 103 cases (83.7%). Positive VEGF-C was significantly correlated with lymph node metastasis (P = 0.0131). Survival curves determined by the Kaplan-Meier method and univariate analysis demonstrated that positive VEGF-C was associated with both disease-free survival (P = 0.0165) and overall survival (P = 0.0175). On the basis of our findings, VEGF-C plays a crucial role in lymph node metastasis and may be a significant prognostic factor for long-term survival in breast cancer.