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Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Link Between VEGFC Expression and Tumor Progression?

By: Jenna Carter, PhD
Posted: Friday, February 16, 2024

The incidence of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is increasing every year around the world and is known as one of the most common types of skin cancer. In an article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, researchers discussed the routes of tumor progression related to angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis as well as the genetic biomarkers potentially involved. Ricardo Fernández-de-Misa, MD, PhD, of the Hospital Universitario Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, and colleagues reported that both angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis facilitate tumor development. In addition, high expression of the vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGFC) gene seems to be correlated to tumor progression and perineural invasion, and overexpression of this gene appears to be linked to decreased disease-free survival.

A total of 49 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples from patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma were employed in this study. Of the samples, 16 tumors were classified with disease progression, and 33 were classified without. Six of the most relevant genes were then selected, and target gene-expression profiles were established using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Immunofluorescence staining was used to assess expression of the studied genes in relation to the existence of tumor progression. The researchers employed Kaplan-Meier curves to plot the disease-free survival probability by the high or low to absent gene expression of VEGFC.

Findings revealed that overexpression of VEGFC occurred in patients with tumor progression (P = .022) and in those with perineural invasion (P = .030). Additionally, there was also a supporting increase in the expression of VEGFC protein in the samples with tumor progression (P = .050). Higher disease-free survival rates were seen with tumors that had low or absent VEGFC expression (P = .027) vs those with high levels of VEGFC expression. Furthermore, Cox analyses revealed that VEGFC expression was found to be a risk factor for disease progression (hazard ratio = 2.675; 95% confidence interval = 1.089–6.570; P = .032).

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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