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Oncotarget. 2017 Mar 14;8(11):17862-17872. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.14977.

Serum ferritin in combination with prostate-specific antigen improves predictive accuracy for prostate cancer.

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The First Affiliated Hospital, Institute of Translational Medicine, School of Public Health, Collaborative Innovation Center for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China.
Department of Nutrition, Precision Nutrition Innovation Center, School of Public Health, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China.


Ferritin is highly expressed in many cancer types. Although a few studies have reported an association between high serum ferritin levels and an increased risk of prostate cancer, the results are inconsistent. Therefore, we performed a large case-control study consisting of 2002 prostate cancer patients and 951 control patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). We found that high ferritin levels were positively associated with increased serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and prostate cancer risk; each 100 ng/ml increase in serum ferritin increased the odds ratio (OR) by 1.20 (95% CI: 1.13-1.36). In the prostate cancer group, increased serum ferritin levels were significantly correlated with higher Gleason scores (p < 0.001). Notably, serum PSA values had even higher predictive accuracy among prostate cancer patients with serum ferritin levels > 400 ng/ml (Gleason score + total PSA correlation: r = 0.38; Gleason score + free PSA correlation: r = 0.49). Moreover, using immunohistochemistry, we found that prostate tissue ferritin levels were significantly higher (p < 0.001) in prostate cancer patients (n = 129) compared to BPH controls (n = 31). Prostate tissue ferritin levels were also highly correlated with serum ferritin when patients were classified by cancer severity (r = 0.81). Importantly, we found no correlation between serum ferritin levels and the inflammation marker C-reactive protein (CRP) in prostate cancer patients. In conclusion, serum ferritin is significantly associated with prostate cancer and may serve as a non-invasive biomarker to complement the PSA test in the diagnosis and prognostic evaluation of prostate cancer.


PSA; ferritin; prostate cancer

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