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Fox Chase Cancer Center Study Links Oxygen Levels and Angiogenesis in Prostate Cancer

PHILADELPHIA (October 23, 2000) -- A new study demonstrates a significant association between a lack of oxygen in prostate cancer cells and the increased expression of the angiogenesis marker, endothelial growth factor or VEGF. The Fox Chase Cancer Center study was presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. on October 23 at 10:45 a.m.

The lack of oxygen, called hypoxia, in tumor cells has been shown to correlate, not only with poor response to radiotherapy, but also to tumor aggressiveness.

"Prior studies have shown that cancer cells adapt to hypoxia by secreting angiogenic growth factors, such as vascular VEGF," explained James V. Tricoli, Ph.D., an associate member in the medical sciences division of Fox Chase and an author of the study. "The purpose of this study was to determine if increasing levels of hypoxia are associated with increased production of VEGF in prostate cancer."

In the study, the oxygen levels in prostate tumor cells were measured in 13 men undergoing radical prostatectomy. Each tumor comprised approximately 100 separate oxygen readings. Tumor tissue from the prostatectomy specimens was then analyzed to measure the level of VEGF. Using a published methodology, two independent observers (blinded to the oxygen data) scored the percent of cells staining positive for VEGF and the staining intensity. The significance of associations between oxygen levels and VEGF staining was determined by Pearson correlation.

"The blinded comparison of oxygen levels and VEGF staining intensity reveals a clear link between increasing hypoxia and VEGF," said Benjamin Movsas, M.D., director of clinical radiotherapy research at Fox Chase. "These findings support examining anti-angiogenic strategies in treating prostate cancer."

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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