Objective: Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) has been reported the cause of many biological events, including cell proliferation, movement, invasiveness, morphogenesis, and angiogenesis. Elevated hepatocyte growth factor content in tumor tissue was reported to predict a more aggressive biology in non-small cell lung cancer patients. However, there is still limited knowledge about the role of HGF in breast cancer. This study was designed with the aim to elucidate the possible relationship between the preoperative circulating soluble HGF and breast cancer. Materials and Methods: One hundred twenty-four consecutive patients with invasive breast cancer undergoing surgery were prospectively included and evaluated. Venous blood samples were collected before the surgery. Sera were obtained by centrifugation and stored at -70°C until assayed. The control group consisted of 35 patients with benign breast tumor (20 with fibrocystic disease and 15 with fibroadenoma). Serum concentrations of soluble HGF were measured by the quantitative sandwich enzyme immunoassay technique. The data on primary tumor staging, age, estrogen receptor status, lymph node status, distant metastases status, histologic grading, and tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging were reviewed and recorded. Results: The mean value of serum soluble HGF in patients with invasive breast cancer was 529.05 ± 123.33 pg/mL and that of control group was 343.00 ± 31.03 pg/mL and the difference was significant (P < 0.001). Furthermore, there were significantly higher serum levels of soluble HGF in patients with negative estrogen receptor (P = 0.035), in patients with poorer differentiated tumor (P < 0.001), in patients with more advanced primary tumor staging (P < 0.001), in patients with more advanced lymph node status (P < 0.001), in patients with distant metastases (P < 0.001), and in patients with more advanced TNM staging (P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis by the multiple linear regression method, TNM staging (P < 0.001) seemed an independent factor regarding the significant higher serum levels of soluble HGF. Conclusion: Patients with more advanced TNM staging were shown to have higher serum soluble HGF. Thus, preoperative serum soluble HGF levels might reflect the severity of invasive breast cancer and deserve further evaluation.
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