Prognostic significance of VEGF after twenty-year follow-up in a randomized trial of fenretinide in non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer

Matteo Puntoni, Marilena Petrera, Sara Campora, Elsa Garrone, Carlotta Defferrari, Rosalba Torrisi, Harriet Johansson, Silvia Bruno, Antonio Curotto, Andrea DeCensi

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Non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) may progress to muscle-invasive disease, but no effective preventive treatments are available. In addition, no reliable prognostic biomarkers have been identified. We assessed the long-term effect of the oral retinoid fenretinide and the prognostic value of circulating VEGF levels. We updated through the Tumor Registry the vital status of 99 patients with resected Ta/T1 bladder tumors who were recruited in a randomized trial of 2 years of fenretinide or no treatment in 1993-1994. Serum VEGF levels measured at baseline and 12 months were available in a subgroup of 62 patients. After a median of 20.5 years, 54 subjects died, 35 of any cancer and 14 of bladder cancer. Neither overall survival (OS), nor cancer survival (CS) or bladder cancer survival (BCS) was affected by fenretinide (log-rank P ≥ 0.2). DNA aneuploidy in bladder washing was associated with shorter OS (P =0.02), CS (P =0.05), and BCS (P = 0.09). Subjects with baseline VEGF levels in the top quintile (≥350 pg/mL) had a significantly shorter OS (P =0.01), CS (P = 0.02), and BCS (P= 0.008). The trend across quintiles of VEGF was significant for BCS (P =0.007). Multivariate analyses showed that, in addition to smoking status, VEGF level in the top quintile was an independent prognostic factor for OS (HR =2.7; 95% CI, 1.1-6.5), CS (HR = 3.3; 95% CI, 1.1-9.4) and BCS (HR =8.9; 95% CI,1.3-61). Fenretinide did not affect the long-term outcome of patients with NMIBC. High serum VEGF level was a significant predictor of overall and cancer death and may help to identify high-risk subjects who may benefit from a preventive therapy. Cancer Prev Res; 9(6); 437-44.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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