Background: The significance of tumor markers in lung cancer is not well established.
Patients and methods: We analyzed level of serum markers as prognostic factor of response and survival in 46 evaluable patients with locally advanced or metastasic non small cell lung cancer. All patients were treated with cisplatin 120 mg/m2 or carboplatin 400 mg/m2 day 1, plus etoposide 80 mg/m2 days 1 to 3.
Results: Partial response was obtained in 11 patients (24%), stabilization in 18 and progression in 17. Tumor marker sensitivities were: CEA 37%, CA 125 54.5%, SCC 17.5%, NSE 30.5%, and CYFRA 52%. Higher levels of CEA and NSE correlated with more probability of response (p < 0.001 and p = 0.002). The survival probability of patients with normal pretreatment levels of NSE was significantly better than those with NSE over normal level (15.2 vs 7.2 months) p = 0.02. In patients who achieved partial response, CEA, CA 125 and CYFRA levels decreased significantly with respect to the pretreatment values.
Conclusions: Patients with high CEA and NSE serum level have an increased probability of response than patients with low initial levels; however, patients with high initial level of NSE have poor survival. The decrease in CEA, CA 125 and CYFRA values at the moment of response evaluation could help in response assessment.