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Determination of Tumor Marker Screening for Lung Cancer Using ROC Curves.

INTRODUCTION: Lung cancer ranks first among malignant tumors worldwide and is a leading cause of cancer-related mortality in both men and women. Combining tumor marker testing is a strategy to screen individuals at high risk of pulmonary cancer and minimize pulmonary cancer mortality. Therefore, tumor marker screening is crucial. In this study, we analyzed combinations of tumor markers for lung cancer screening using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis.

METHODS: A retrospective descriptive study was conducted on patients diagnosed with lung cancer, as well as healthy and benign lung diseases, using data from the China Huludao Central Hospital database between January 2016 and July 2022. The t -test and ROC curve were utilized to assess the effectiveness of individual tumor marker and the combination of multiple tumor markers. Tumor markers are molecular products metabolized and secreted by tumor tissues, characterized by cells or body fluids. They serve as indicators of tumor stage and grading, monitor treatment response, and predict recurrence.

RESULTS: In this study, 267 healthy participants, 385 patients with benign lesions, and 296 patients with lung cancer underwent tumor marker screening. The sensitivity of five tumor markers-CEA, CYFRA21-1, NSE, pro-GRP, and CA125-was found to be <55%. This study revealed that a single tumor marker had limited value in lung cancer screening. However, combining two or more markers yielded varying area under the curves (AUC), with no significant impact on screening accuracy. The combination of CEA + CA125 demonstrated the highest accuracy for lung cancer screening in healthy participants. At a cutoff of 0.447 for CEA + CA125, the combination showed a sensitivity of 0.676 and specificity of 0.846 for lung cancer screening. Conversely, for patients with benign lung lesions, the optimal combination was CEA + NSE, with a cutoff of 0.393, yielding a sensitivity of 0.645 and specificity of 0.766 for lung cancer screening.

CONCLUSION: The five tumor markers-CEA, CA125, CY211, NSE, GRP-show promising results in screening healthy individuals and patients with lung cancer. However, only CEA, NSE, and GRP effectively differentiate patients with benign lung lesions from those with lung cancer. A single tumor marker has limited utility in detecting and screening for lung cancer and should be combined with other tumor markers. CEA + CA125 emerges as a superior tumor marker for distinguishing healthy individuals from those with lung cancer, whereas the CEA + NSE combination is more effective in identifying tumor markers in patients with benign lung lesions and lung cancer.

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