Do CA 19-9 and TPA play a minor role as compared to AFP in diagnosing primary hepatocellular carcinoma?

G. Leandro, S. Zizzari, C. Fabris, D. Basso, S. Elba, G. Del Favero, T. Meggiato, C. Angonese, F. Di Mario, O. G. Manghisi, Remo Naccarato

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This study was undertaken in order to compare the ability of 4 tumour markers to discriminate between liver cirrhosis patients with or without hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), CA 19-9 and tissue polypeptide antigen (TPA) were determined in 63 patients with liver cirrhosis and in 25 patients with HCC in liver cirrhosis. All 4 serum markers were found to be increased in a number of liver cirrhosis patients, regardless of the presence of HCC. AFP was found to be more elevated in HCC patients as compared to the other group; no difference was observed for CA 19-9, CEA and TPA. A significant correlation was detected in HCC patients between AFP and TPA. Significant correlation were detected in all except HCC patients between liver function tests and TPA. We can conclude that AFP determination remains as yet the only suitable marker able to detect HCC in liver cirrhosis. The newly introduced serum marker CA 19-9 is, as previously reported, unhelpful for CEA. TPA can in some instances (i.e. in the absence of an important hepatic cell necrosis or cholestasis) provide a clue to neoplastic growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-385
Number of pages5
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1989


  • CA 19-9
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Serum alpha-fetoprotein
  • Tissue polypeptide antigen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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