The diagnostic and prognostic value of tumor markers (CEA, SCC, CYFRA 21-1, TPS) in head and neck cancer patients

Vivian Barak*, Amichay Meirovitz, Vera Leibovici, Jacob Rachmut, Tamar Peretz, Ron Eliashar, Menachem Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background/Aim: Establishing prognostic factors is very important in the management of cancer patients. Our aim was to evaluate the clinical significance of a panel of tumor markers, including CEA (Carcino Embryonic Antigen), SCC (Squamous Cell Carcinoma Antigen), TPS (Tissue Polypeptide Specific Antigen) and CYFRA 21-1 in head and neck cancer patients, for assessing treatment response and prognosis of patients. Patients and Methods: We evaluated 312 blood samples from 143 head and neck cancer patients, from several sub-groups: 82 Larynx Carcinoma pre- and 38 post-therapy, 46 Oral Cavity pre and 29 post-therapy, 12 nasopharynx, 16 parotid and other salivary gland patients. Blood tumor markers levels were evaluated by conventional ELISA assays. Correlations of marker levels to stage of disease, lymph node involvement and therapy, were performed. Results: Serum levels of all four tumor markers were higher before therapy and decreased thereafter in all patients. The decrease in TPS level following therapy was significant (p=0.03). Significantly higher levels of TPS and similarly higher levels of the other tumor markers were demonstrated in advanced disease (stages III and IV) patients, as opposed to early disease (stages I and II) patients (p=0.012). Node positive patients had significantly higher TPS levels as compared to node negative (p=0.02). The same trend was shown by the other markers as well, but did not reach statistical significance. TPS was best correlated to survival of patients; those having low levels had the best clinical outcome and longer survival. Conclusion: CEA, SCC, TPS and CYFRA 21-1 can all serve as useful tumor markers in HNC patients. They assessed response to therapy and were prognostic for recurrence. TPS proved to be the most sensitive predictor of advanced disease and poor prognosis.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5519-5524
Number of pages6
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical utility
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Tumor markers


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