Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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An update on the clinical diagnostic value of β-hCG and αFP for intracranial germ cell tumors.

BACKGROUND: Pathological examination combined with tumor markers has become a standard for the diagnosis of intracranial germ cell tumors (ICGCTs), but the current concept of 'secreting germ cell tumors' and three empirically highly specific diagnostic criteria (β-hCG ≥ 50 IU/L or αFP ≥ 10 ng/mL; β-hCG ≥ 100 IU/L or αFP ≥ 50 ng/mL; β-hCG > 50 IU/L or αFP > 25 ng/mL) are not based upon pathology examination or CSF cytology. Further investigation is needed to re-evaluate their value.

METHODS: A multidisciplinary diagnostic team was created. Valid β-hCG/αFP data were collected from cases of ICGCTs confirmed by pathology and CSF cytology (n = 58) between 1991 and 2012, and from suspected ICGCTs cases (n = 17) between 2011 and 2012 as controls [Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), n = 12; and other intracranial tumor (ICT), n = 5]. The cut-off points for β-hCG and αFP were calculated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

RESULTS: This study clarifies the relative rationality of one criteria (β-hCG > 50 IU/L and αFP > 25 ng/mL); confirms new β-hCG diagnostic cut-off points: CSF β-hCG ≥ 8.2 IU/L and serum β-hCG ≥ 2.5 IU/L (sensitivity of 47 and 34%, respectively, specificity of 100%, both; P < 0.05); and empirically adjusts the criteria for αFP to ≥ 3.8 ng/mL in CSF and to ≥ 25 ng/mL in serum. The total diagnostic sensitivity for ICGCTs finally increased from 34.6 to 65.4% (P < 0.05, diagnostic value of CSF β-hCG exceeds 90%). Subtype diagnosis improved with αFP in 16.7% of non-geminomatous germ cell tumor cases.

CONCLUSION: New evidence-based criteria of β-hCG and αFP can help improving early and formal diagnosis of ICGCTs, and is of great clinical significance.

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