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Int J Cancer. 2002 Jul 10;100(2):244-6.

Clinical use of serum TRA-1-60 as tumor marker in patients with germ cell cancer.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


TRA-1-60 antigen has been related to the presence of embryonal germ cell carcinoma (EC) and carcinoma in situ. Our study further investigated the clinical efficacy of TRA-1-60 as a serum tumor marker for germ cell cancer in the testis. Three groups of patients with germ cell tumors were included: Group 1, 34 patients with disseminated disease (24 nonseminomatous germ cell tumors [NSGCT] and 10 seminomatous germ cell tumors [SGCT]); this group of patients were followed during the course of chemotherapy with measurements of TRA-1-60, HCG and AFP; Group 2, 28 patients with Stage I NSGCT (22 with embryonal carcinoma [EC]-component and 6 without EC-component, median follow-up 15 months); and Group 3, 40 patients with Stage I pure SGCT (median follow-up 15 months). Seventy-eight percent of patients with disseminated EC-positive NSGCT had increased levels of TRA-1-60 before chemotherapy. After chemotherapy, levels of TRA-1-60 had dropped significantly (p < 0.01). Levels of TRA-1-60 did not normalize in 15% of NSGCT and 30% of SGCT patients after chemotherapy. This was not associated with recurrent disease. Approximately one-third of patients with Stage I NSGCT had increased values of TRA-1-60 during follow-up without having a relapse. Contrary to earlier reports TRA-1-60 is not at present useful as a tumor marker in patients with germ cell tumors. Although detecting a few early relapses the rate of false positive elevations in the tumor marker makes it unreliable in the clinical setting. Our study did confirm that elevated levels of TRA-1-60 were present in approximately 80% of patients with disseminated EC-positive NSGCT before start of chemotherapy and chemotherapy induced a significant decrease in levels of TRA-1-60. Thus, the TRA-1-60 antigen might still prove clinically useful provided that the reliability of the assay can be increased.

Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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