Skip to Content

Older Adults

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 instance, 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 need more oxygen from the blood. The cancer encourages new blood vessels to grow to supply it with more blood and oxygen. Most tumors show higher levels of VEGF. Sometimes higher levels mean a lower chance of survival. In addition, VEGF may be important in the spread of cancer to other places within your body. Certain cancer treatments target VEGF. This test may be used to tell how well the treatments are working.

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. Leaking blood vessels in the eye causing problems is also seen in age-related macular degeneration and eye changes from diabetes.

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. They might also order this test to see if your cancer is responding to treatments that 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

  • Liver damage

  • Underactive thyroid gland

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, and other things. Your test results may be different depending on the lab used. They may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you.

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. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illegal drugs you may use. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 9/1/2022
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.