Clinicopathological significances of heparanase activity in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) were investigated by analyzing 76 resected specimens of NSCLC. Heparanase activities in NSCLC were significantly higher than non-cancerous lung tissues (P<0.0001). The heparanase activities of NSCLC were significantly higher in larger diameter tumors (P=0.0141) or with metastasis to ipsilateral mediastinal lymph nodes (P=0.0004). The activities of heparanase in primary tumors were increased significantly according to the pathological stage of the progression of the disease (P=0.0009). Among the clinicopathological parameters, histological cell type and evidence of ipsilateral lymph node metastasis showed a significant association with elevated heparanase activities, whereas age, degree of differentiation and tumor diameter did not. Kaplan-Meier curves for overall and disease-free survival demonstrated a significant difference between patients with elevated and non-elevated heparanase activity by log-rank test (P=0.0145 and 0.0002, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed heparanase activity was an independent factor to influence disease-free survival in our study. These results suggest that heparanase activity could be used as a prognostic indicator for postoperative patients with NSCLC and heparanase might be a promising molecular target for treatment of NSCLC.
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