Objectives: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly vascularized tumor. In this study, we investigated the prognostic and predictive values of proangiogenic factors in HCC patients receiving radiotherapy.
Methods: Between September 2008 and December 2009, a total of 50 patients treated with radiotherapy were prospectively enrolled in this study. Serum and urine samples were collected <1 week before and after radiotherapy.
Results: After completion of radiotherapy, serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)/platelet (Plt) levels were significantly increased (p < 0.01). Patients who experienced hepatic tumor recurrence outside the radiation field showed higher VEGF-A/Plt levels before and after radiotherapy than patients who did not (p = 0.04), whereas patients who had hepatic tumor recurrence inside the radiation field showed significantly higher matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 levels after radiotherapy (p = 0.04). On multivariate analyses, a high level of either VEGF/Plt or MMP-2 (≥ median) before radiotherapy was a significant independent prognostic factor for a worse progression-free survival (p = 0.04).
Conclusions: In HCC patients receiving radiotherapy, levels of VEGF/Plt and MMP-2 before radiotherapy can be useful to predict treatment outcome. This study also suggests the necessity of anti-angiogenic therapy, such as sorafenib, since radiotherapy increases VEGF/Plt levels, and higher levels of VEGF/Plt are associated with a poor outcome.
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