Serum tumor markers CEA, CYFRA21-1, and CA-125 are associated with worse prognosis in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

Clin Lung Cancer. 2011 May;12(3):172-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cllc.2011.03.019. Epub 2011 Apr 24.


Background: Serum tumor markers are considered a negative prognostic factor in early-stages NSCLC but its role in advanced disease is controversial. The aim of this study is to analyze the prognostic value of tumor markers in advanced NSCLC.

Patients and methods: Two hundred and seventy seven patients diagnosed in our institution were retrospectively reviewed. Baseline prognostic factors analyzed were gender, histology and brain metastases.

Results: Baseline patients characteristics: median age 63 years (30-81 years); males 84.4%, stage IV: 61.7%; adenocarcinoma 38.6%, squamous carcinoma 22.4%. High levels of CEA, CYFRA21-1, and CA125 levels were detected in 179 (55.9%), 119 (65%), and 129 (46.6%) patients respectively. Significant higher levels of CEA and CA125 at baseline were present in adenocarcinoma (P < .05). PFS in patients with elevated CEA, CYFRA21-1, and CA125 was 5.3 months (m), 3.5 m and 4.6 m versus 7.4 m, 6.2 m and 7.5 m in patients with normal levels (P < .05). The OS in patients with high and normal levels of tumor markers was 10.0 m vs 14.0 m (P = 0.085) for CEA; 5.6 vs 12.1 m for CYFRA21-1 (P = .002), and 8.7 vs 14.0 (P = .03) for CA125. In the multivariate analysis high levels of tumor markers, histology and clinical stage were significant correlated with worse prognostic. Patients with all the tumor markers elevated presented the worst prognosis (3.6 m for PFS and 7.1 m for OS, P < .001).

Conclusion: In our analysis, high levels of tumor markers at baseline are correlated with worse survival in stage III-IV NSCLC patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / blood
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Keratin-19 / blood*
  • Lung Neoplasms / blood
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-125 Antigen
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Keratin-19
  • antigen CYFRA21.1