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BACKGROUND—Gastric cancer remains a major cause of cancer mortality globally but no good prognostic tumour marker is available. Soluble fragment of E-cadherin protein has been reported to increase in the sera of patients with cancer and recently was found to be elevated in 67% of patients with gastric cancer.
AIMS—To investigate if serum soluble E-cadherin is a valid prognostic marker in gastric cancer.
METHODS—Concentrations of soluble E-cadherin from 116 patients with histologically confirmed gastric adenocarinoma and 40 healthy subjects were measured using an immunoenzymometric method with a commercially available sandwich ELISA kit based on monoclonal antibodies.
RESULTS—The logarithm of the means of soluble E-cadherin concentration was significantly higher in patients with gastric cancers (mean 3.85 (SD 0.28)) than in healthy subjects (3.71 (0.18)) (p=0.001), and in palliative/conservatively treated cancers (3.91 (0.35)) than in operable cancers (3.78 (0.19)) (p=0.015). The logarithm of the concentrations correlated with tumour size (p=0.032) and carcinoembryonic antigen concentrations (p=0.001). The cut off value calculated from discriminant analysis on operability and inoperability/palliative treatment was 7025 ng/ml. Soluble E-cadherin concentrations higher than this cut off value predicted tumour (T4) depth invasion (p=0.020, confidence interval (CI) 1.008-1.668) and palliative/conservative treatment (p=0.023, CI 1.038-2.514). In contrast, the relative risks for lymph node (N2) metastasis, distant metastasis, and stage III/IV disease were 1.41, 1.33, and 1.55 respectively, despite not reaching statistical significance.
CONCLUSION—Serum soluble E-cadherin is a potential valid prognostic marker for gastric cancer. A high concentration predicts palliative/conservative treatment and T4 invasion.
Keywords: E-cadherin; gastric cancer; tumour marker