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August 1992

The Lack of Utility of a Tumor Marker Panel in Head and Neck Carcinoma: Squamous Cell Carcinoma Antigen, Carcinoembryonic Antigen, Lipid-Associated Sialic Acid, and CA-125

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh (Pa) School of Medicine, The Eye and Ear Institute of Pittsburgh.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992;118(8):802-805. doi:10.1001/archotol.1992.01880080024007

• An ideal tumor marker should be sensitive in tumor-bearing patients while having adequate specificity so that controls do not demonstrate the marker. To date, a single circulating marker has not been identified for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. This study evaluates a panel including squamous cell carcinoma radioimmunoassay, lipid-associated sialic acid, carcinoembryonic antigen, and CA-125. In this population of patients with cancer, serum samples from 101 patients and 88 controls were evaluated. The squamous cell carcinoma radioimmunoassay was the most sensitive marker identified (47.5%), while carcinoembryonic antigen level was elevated in 40.6%, lipid-associated sialic acid level in only 16.8%, and CA-125 level in 7.9%. False-positive results were found with all markers, including squamous cell carcinoma radioimmunoassay (18.2%), carcinoembryonic antigen (18.2%), lipid-associated sialic acid (10.2%), and CA-125 (15.9%). Various combinations of markers did not significantly improve either specificity or sensitivity. Available tumor markers are inadequate for diagnostic purposes in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992;118:802-805)

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