Virchows Archiv

, Volume 453, Issue 3, pp 257–265 | Cite as

The role of VEGF-C staining in predicting regional metastasis in melanoma

  • Barbara Boone
  • Willeke Blokx
  • Dirk De Bacquer
  • Jo Lambert
  • Dirk Ruiter
  • Lieve Brochez
Original Article


Sentinel lymph node status is the most important prognostic factor in primary melanoma. The number of melanoma-associated lymphatic vessels has been associated with sentinel lymph node status and survival. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) is found to promote tumour-associated lymphatic vessel growth. In many human neoplasms, VEGF-C expression in neoplastic cells or tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs) has been linked to lymphatic dissemination of tumour cells. Recent studies have suggested a correlation between VEGF-C expression in primary melanoma and the presence of lymph node metastasis. We performed VEGF-C immunohistochemical staining on melanoma tissues of 113 patients with known sentinel lymph node status. We showed that both high VEGF-C expression in melanoma cells and TAMs are positively associated with the presence of a positive sentinel lymph node. No correlation with Breslow thickness, Clark invasion level or ulceration could be detected. VEGF-C expression in melanoma cells was predictive of a shorter overall and disease-free survival, without being an independent predictor of survival. Our results confirm that VEGF-C expression in primary cutaneous melanoma plays a role in the lymphatic spread of the tumour.


Skin Melanoma Lymphangiogenesis Sentinel lymph node VEGF-C TAMs Immunohistochemistry 



The authors thank Mrs. R. Heyse and Mrs. S. D’Hont for their technical support and assistance in completing this study. This study was supported by the National Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders, grant number G.0128.06.

Barbara Boone is a research fellow of the National Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders, grant number G.0128.06.

Conflict of interest statement

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Boone
    • 1
  • Willeke Blokx
    • 2
  • Dirk De Bacquer
    • 3
  • Jo Lambert
    • 1
  • Dirk Ruiter
    • 2
  • Lieve Brochez
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyUniversity Hospital GhentGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUMC Sint-RadboudNijmegenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthUniversity Hospital GhentGhentBelgium

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