Serum SCCA-IgM as a predictor of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with liver cirrhosis

DOI: 10.4236/ojgas.2012.22012   PDF   HTML     4,274 Downloads   7,703 Views   Citations


Aberrant Squamous Cell Carcinoma Antigen (SCCA) expression is an early hepatocarcinogenetic event and circulating SCCA-IgM complexes are elevated in most HCC patients. We evaluated whether serum SCCA-IgM levels can identify HCV +ve cirrhotic patients at low HCC risk. In this retrospective study we enrolled 29 cirrhotic patients in whom serum SCCA-IgM was measured 8 - 69 months (median 31) before HCC diagnosis, and 28 cirrhotic patients who remained HCC- free, with SCCA-IgM measured 15 - 68 months (median 48) before the study end. The best discriminating value of SCCA-IgM was calculated and tested in predicting HCC diagnosis within 12, 24 and 36 months. Sensitivity analysis, considering different HCC incidence, was conducted to identify the patient subgroup with an annual cancer risk below the threshold of a cost-effective semiannual surveillance with ultrasound. Cumulative HCC incidence at 12, 24 and 36 months was 7.0%, 15.7% and 26.3%, respectively. SCCA-IgM levels were higher in HCC than in cirrhotic patients [median: 381 (95% C.I.: 50 - 5289) vs. 100 (70 - 493) AU/mL, P = 0.005]. The SCCA-IgM value ≤ 200 AU/mL accurately identified patients at low risk of HCC development in the subsequent year (sensitivity 75%, specificity 62%, positive predictive value 13% and negative predictive value 97%). Considering an annual HCC incidence ≤ 3%, patients with SCCA-IgM ≤ 200 AU/mL (60% of the whole patients) had an HCC risk below the accepted threshold of a cost-effective surveillance (1.5%). In conclusion, provided that our provocative results are confirmed in larger studies, SCCA-IgM serum measurement could permit implementation of a two step (with different costs) surveillance: an initial serological surveillance, based on the annual monitoring of this biomarker, and the conventional surveillance by semiannual US when SCCA-IgM becomes >200 AU/mL. This could improve the cost/effectiveness of surveillance of HCV infected patients at risk of HCC.

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Buccione, D. , Fatti, G. , Gallotta, A. , Loggi, E. , Donato, R. , Testa, L. , Saitta, C. , Santi, V. , Micoli, A. , Erroi, V. , Frigerio, M. , Fazio, V. , Picciotto, A. , Biasiolo, A. , Degos, F. , Pontisso, P. , Raimondo, G. and Trevisani, F. (2012) Serum SCCA-IgM as a predictor of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with liver cirrhosis. Open Journal of Gastroenterology, 2, 56-61. doi: 10.4236/ojgas.2012.22012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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