Serum ferritin as a clinical marker for renal cell carcinoma: influence of tumor size and volume

Urol Int. 1999;62(1):21-5. doi: 10.1159/000030349.


Objectives: There is no established tumor marker for renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Ferritin is shown to be expressed by the tumor, and proposed as a tumor marker. The aim of this study is to assess the relation between ferritin levels and tumor volume, size and prognosis in RCC.

Methods: We studied ferritin levels in serum from peripheral and renal veins of 52 patients with RCC who underwent surgery. Ferritin levels were measured by an enzyme immunoassay method. Tumor volume and the largest tumor diameter were calculated from the pathologic specimens.

Results: The mean serum ferritin level from the renal vein (RVF) was statistically higher than the ferritin level from the peripheral vein (PVF) (p = 0.028). Although mean RVF level increased with increasing stage, it was not significant. While there was a correlation with tumor size, volume and RVF, PVF was in correlation with disease status. PVF in patients with metastatic and/or locally advanced disease was significantly higher than the patients with localized disease (p = 0.023). The initial RVF and PVF levels were predictive of survival (p = 0.028 and p = 0.034, respectively).

Conclusions: Higher levels in the renal vein, its positive correlation with tumor size and volume suggest that ferritin is expressed by RCC. Initial peripheral serum values of ferritin can be indicative of disease status and also be a prognosticator of survival.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / mortality
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Kidney Neoplasms / blood*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Kidney Neoplasms / mortality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pelvis / diagnostic imaging
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Rate
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Ferritins