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Br J Cancer. 1989 Jun;59(6):949-53.

Enzyme-linked PNA lectin binding assay compared with CA19-9 and CEA radioimmunoassay as a diagnostic blood test for pancreatic cancer.

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University Department of Medicine, Liverpool University, UK.


Previous studies have shown that sera from patients with pancreatic cancer often contain a mucus glycoprotein that expresses the oncofetal antigen galactose 1-3, N-acetyl galactosamine, which is the T blood group antigen and the binding site for the lectin peanut agglutinin (PNA). An enzyme-linked lectin assay has been developed to quantify PNA-binding glycoproteins in serum and has been evaluated as a serological test for pancreatic cancer. Sera were studied from 53 patients with pancreatic cancer and 154 controls, including benign obstructive jaundice, acute and chronic pancreatitis, chronic liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease. The enzyme-linked peanut lectin assay proved highly reproducible and has 77% sensitivity and 83% specificity for pancreatic cancer, results that are very similar to those achieved in the same sera by CA19-9 radioimmunoassay (75% sensitivity, 82% specificity with the upper limit of normal set at 37 u ml-1). CEA assay proved less useful (60% sensitivity, 47% specificity). In this study better results were obtained if an upper limit of normal of 50 u ml-1 was used for CA19-9 (75% sensitivity, 92% specificity). Combination of CA19-9 assay with the upper limit set at 50 u ml-1 and the peanut lectin assay improved the sensitivity to 85% with only a slight fall in specificity (85%). These results compare well with published results for ultrasound and CT scanning.

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