The differential diagnosis of solid lesions located at the pancreatic head is very important for choosing therapies and setting up surgical tactics. This study was designed to evaluate the clinical significance of combined measurement of multiple serum tumor markers and the application of the receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves in the differential diagnosis of solid lesions located at the pancreatic head.
The serum levels of CA19-9, CA242, CA50 and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in 112 patients with carcinoma of the pancreatic head and 38 patients with focal chronic pancreatitis in the pancreatic head were measured with ELISA. The sensitivity, specificity, positive likelihood ratio (PLR) and negative likelihood ratio (NLR) of the four serum tumor markers were calculated. The ROC curves for the four serum tumor markers were constructed and the area under the curve (AUC) was calculated.
The AUCs of CA19-9, CA242, CA50 and CEA were 0.805, 0.749, 0.738 and 0.705; the PLRs were 1.91, 3.43, 5.09 and 5.46; and the NLRs were 0.41, 0.56, 0.59 and 0.71, respectively. Combined measurements increased the diagnostic specificity, and parallel combined testing increased the diagnostic sensitivity.
Combined measurement of serum tumor markers CA19-9, CA242, CA50 and CEA is valuable in differential diagnosis of solid lesions located at the pancreatic head, and CA19-9 has the best diagnostic ability. Combined measurements can increase the specificity of diagnosis. Evaluation with the ROC curve is better than the sensitivity or specificity alone and the results are more integrated and objective.