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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Jan;4(1):111-7.

Prognostic significance of simultaneous measurement of three tumor markers in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Ogaki Municipal Hospital, Gifu, Japan.



We conducted a prospective study to evaluate the significance of simultaneous measurement of 3 currently used tumor markers in the evaluation of tumor progression and prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


Three tumor markers for HCC, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), Lens culinaris agglutinin A-reactive fraction of AFP (AFP-L3), and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP), were measured in the same serum samples obtained from 685 patients at the time of initial diagnosis of HCC. Positivity for AFP >20 ng/dL, AFP-L3 >10% of total AFP, and/or DCP >40 mAU/mL was determined. In addition, tumor markers were measured after treatment of HCC.


Of the 685 patients, 337 (55.8%) were positive for AFP, 206 (34.1%) were positive for AFP-L3, and 371 (54.2%) were positive for DCP. In a comparison of patients positive for only 1 tumor marker, patients positive for AFP-L3 alone had a greater number of tumors, whereas patients positive for DCP alone had larger tumors and a higher prevalence of portal vein invasion. When patients were compared according to the number of tumor markers present, the number of markers present clearly reflected the extent of HCC and patient outcomes. The number of markers present significantly decreased after treatment.


Tumor markers AFP-L3 and DCP appear to represent different features of tumor progression in patients with HCC. The number of tumor markers present could be useful for the evaluation of tumor progression, prediction of patient outcome, and treatment efficacy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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