Evaluation of diagnostic value of four tumor markers in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of peripheral lung cancer

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The diagnostic role of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) antigen, Cyfra 21-1 and neuron-specific enolase (NSE) in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) for lung cancer is still controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the diagnostic value of these four tumor markers in BALF for peripheral lung cancer.


We measured and compared the levels of CEA, SCC, Cyfra21-1 and NSE in BALF in 42 patients with peripheral lung cancer and 22 patients with benign lung disease. In the patients with peripheral lung cancer, the BAL was separately performed in the bronchus of the tumor-bearing lung and in the corresponding bronchus of the opposite healthy lung.


The levels of CEA, SCC, Cyfra21-1 and NSE were significantly elevated in BALF from the tumor-bearing lung compared with the opposite healthy lung in the lung cancer patients (P < 0.001) or the benign lung disease patients (P < 0.005). The diagnostic sensitivities of Cyfra21-1 (86 and 76%), with a specificity of 91%, were the highest among the four tumor markers for the tumor-bearing lung versus the opposite healthy lung and benign lung disease. The combination of Cyfra21-1 and CEA increased the sensitivity to 93 and 86 percent, respectively.


The assay of these tumor markers in BALF may be used as a diagnostic tool to complement a cytological examination in the diagnosis of peripheral lung cancer.

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