Background: A valid biomarker for predicting the presence of gastric cancer may contribute to reducing deaths from this disease. Although pepsinogen (PG) testing has been introduced as a predictor, its predictive power is not satisfactory. We examined whether serum trefoil factor (TFF) could be a non-endoscopic predictor of the presence of gastric cancer.
Methods: Gastric cancer patients who underwent preoperative endoscopy were sequentially recruited. Individuals who underwent a thorough medical checkup were enrolled as non-cancer controls. Serum levels of TFF1, TFF2, TFF3, Helicobacter pylori antibody, PG I, and PG II were examined.
Results: We studied 192 gastric cancer patients aged 64.3 ± 9.7 years and 1254 non-cancer controls aged 52.3 ± 12.4 years. In the age/gender-matched analysis (187 cases and 561 controls), significant relationships were demonstrated between gastric cancer presence and TFF3 (P < 0.0001), the PGI/II ratio (P < 0.0001), H. pylori antibody (P = 0.001), TFF1 (P = 0.012), and TFF2 (P = 0.020). The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve for predicting gastric cancer presence was comparably high for all factors (0.893) and for the combination of TFF3 and the PG test (0.883), but was significantly (P < 0.0001) lower for the PG test alone (0.823). A positive PG test showed a sensitivity of 67% and specificity of 82%, whereas a combination of TFF3 and PG testing showed a sensitivity of 80% and specificity of 80% in predicting the presence of gastric cancer.
Conclusion: The combination of serum TFF3 and PG testing might be a valid non-endoscopic biomarker for predicting the presence of gastric cancer.