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Br J Cancer. 1991 Aug;64(2):386-90.

Abnormally-fucosylated haptoglobin: a cancer marker for tumour burden but not gross liver metastasis.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Medical School, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


A previous study has shown that there are high levels of an abnormally-fucosylated form of haptoglobin (FHp) in the blood of cancer patients (Thompson & Turner, 1987b). In this study, we investigated the expression of this substance in serial blood specimens from women with ovarian or breast cancer who were undergoing cytotoxic chemotherapy. The level of FHp was related to patient response to therapy status, this latter index being an indirect determination of tumour burden. FHp levels did not correlate with gross liver metastasis (as shown by CT scans or the blood levels of liver enzymes). This conclusion was further supported by results from patients with hepatocellular cancer. FHp was elevated in most of these patients, but the pattern of change did not correlate with variations in the level of the hepatoma marker, alpha-foetoprotein. It seems likely that FHp is produced by the liver. Primary and secondary tumours could release substances, such as cytokines, which interfere with fucose metabolism in the liver.

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