Combined Analysis of AFP and HCCR-1 as an Useful Serological Marker for Small Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Prospective Cohort Study
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most frequent malignant tumors in the world. The only serological marker widely used for the diagnosis of HCC is alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Despite that AFP is widely used for the diagnosis of HCC, it has a limit as a serological marker due to its low sensitivity and specificity. The human cervical cancer proto-oncogene 1 (HCCR-1) was previously reported as a new biomarker for HCC. To further evaluate the HCCR-1 as a biomarker for HCC, we conducted the prospective cohort study. We evaluated the significance of simultaneous measurement of 2 tumor markers in the diagnosis of HCC in China, Japan and Korea. Two markers for HCC, AFP and HCCR-1, were measured in the sera obtained from 1,338 patients at the time of initial diagnosis of HCC. Of the 1338 HCC patients, 616 (46%) and 686 (51.3%) were sero-positive for AFP and HCCR-1, respectively. The positive rate for HCC was increased up to 74.1% in combined use of AFP and HCCR-1. Many cases (54%) for AFP-negative HCC were positive for HCCR-1 and vice versa. More importantly, the diagnostic rate for small HCC (< 2 cm) was signiﬁcantly improved in the combined analysis of AFP and HCCR-1 to 56.9% although it was only 40.1% and 23.4% in the single analysis of HCCR-1 and AFP, respectively. Our result suggests that the HCCR-1 could be an useful biomarker for HCC while the diagnostic rate could be signiﬁcantly improved in the combined use of HCCR-1 and AFP.