Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor
Does this test have other names?
VEGF, vascular permeability factor, VPF
What is this test?
This test measures the amount of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in your
blood. VEGF is a substance that helps encourage the growth of new blood vessels. Your
body makes more VEGF in certain cases. For example, if your tissues aren't getting
enough oxygen, they may make more VEGF so that new blood vessels grow to bring in
more oxygen. Your lungs contain VEGF because good blood flow is vital there.
But VEGF also plays a role in cancer growth. Cancers need an ample blood supply. As
a tumor grows larger, its cells can become hungry for oxygen. The cancer encourages
new blood vessels to grow to supply it. Most tumors show higher levels of VEGF. Sometimes
higher levels mean a lower chance of survival. In addition, VEGF may be important
in the process of metastasis. This is when cancer spreads to other places within your
VEGF can also promote "leakiness" of blood vessels. This can lead to swelling in surrounding
areas. This can be especially harmful during brain cancer, because it can increase
pressure within the skull and may lead to brain damage.
Certain cancer treatments target VEGF. This test may be used to tell how well the
treatments are working.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if your healthcare provider wants to find out how quickly a
tumor is growing. He or she might also order this test to see if your cancer is responding
to treatments that work against VEGF. A number of cancer treatments work against VEGF.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
If you have cancer, your healthcare provider may order tests to check for possible
complications linked to certain anti-VEGF treatments. These complications include:
High blood pressure
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
Higher levels of VEGF have been linked to many types of cancer.
How is this test done?
The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in
your arm or hand.
Does this test pose any risks?
Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection,
bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may
feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore.
What might affect my test results?
If your blood sample is mishandled by your healthcare provider or the lab, the results
may not be accurate. Medicines such as cholesterol medicine (statins) can increase
VEGF levels. High platelet levels can also affect the results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about
all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines
that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.