BACKGROUND: Testing for circulating biomarkers in lung cancer is hampered by the insufficient specificity. We aimed to assess the relative diagnostic accuracy of pro-gastrin-releasing peptide (ProGRP) for the differential diagnosis of small cell lung cancer and compare it with more conventional biomarkers.
METHODS: We enrolled a cohort of 390 patients with a clinical suspicion of lung cancer and for whom a histologic assessment was available. Serum or plasma samples were assessed for ProGRP, carcinoembryonic antigen, CYFRA 21-2, and neuron-specific enolase. The performance of each biomarker in discriminating the small cell lung cancer and squamous cell carcinoma/adenocarcinoma from non-malignant lung disease, and small cell lung cancer from squamous cell carcinoma/adenocarcinoma, was assayed by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis.
RESULTS: At the cut-off levels suggested by the manufacturers, ProGRP and neuron-specific enolase showed an almost identical sensitivity of 55.2% and 55.6%, respectively, in discriminating small cell lung cancer with respect to non-malignant lung disease. In order to quantify the added value of ProGRP to other conventional markers, we ran a multivariable logistic regression analysis, but the results showed that no markers improve the performance of ProGRP.
CONCLUSIONS: ProGRP and neuron-specific enolase individually appear more accurate than other conventional biomarkers for small cell lung cancer, but the union of two markers does not increase the accuracy. The very small target group of patients with small cell lung cancer is a limitation of this study, which can explain why ProGRP alone does not show a sensitivity higher than neuron-specific enolase, as reported by other authors.
- Antigens, Neoplasm/blood
- Biomarkers, Tumor/blood
- Carcinoembryonic Antigen/blood
- Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung/blood
- Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/blood
- Diagnosis, Differential
- Follow-Up Studies
- Gastrin-Releasing Peptide/blood
- Lung Neoplasms/blood
- Peptide Fragments/blood
- ROC Curve
- Recombinant Proteins/blood
- Small Cell Lung Carcinoma/blood