Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is a specific ligand which induces lymphangiogenesis. We examined the expression of VEGF-C protein to determine its role in the progression of breast cancer. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that VEGF-C was overexpressed in 39 of 98 breast cancer specimens (39.8%) but not in adjacent normal mammary glands. The expression of VEGF-C showed a significant correlation with lymphatic vessel invasion (p = 0.0004). It is noteworthy that the 5-year disease free survival rate of the VEGF-C positive group was significantly poorer than that of negative group (p = 0.0356). We suggest that as expression of VEGF-C is not implicated in lymphatic spread, it may prove to be a promising marker to predict the recurrence of breast cancer.
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