Combined use of AFP, PIVKA-II, and AFP-L3 as tumor markers enhances diagnostic accuracy for hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients

Tae Seop Lim, Do Young Kim, Kwang Hyub Han, Hyon Suk Kim, Seung Hwan Shin, Kyu Sik Jung, Beom Kyung Kim, Seung Up Kim, Jun Yong Park, Sang Hoon Ahn

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: As data on the effectiveness of tumor markers in detecting hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in cirrhotic patients are limited, we investigated the diagnostic accuracy of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), protein induced by Vitamin K absence or antagonist-II (PIVKA-II), and Lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive fraction of AFP (AFP-L3). Material and methods: This retrospective study enrolled 361 cirrhotic patients with HCC, and 276 cirrhotic patients without HCC occurrence. Results: Most patients were men (n = 431, 67.7%); the median age was 57.0 years. The main etiology of chronic liver disease was chronic hepatitis B (n = 467, 73.3%). The sensitivity and specificity of combined three biomarkers was 87.0 and 60.1% in overall HCC, and 75.7 and 60.1% in early HCC, respectively (cutoff: 20 ng/mL for AFP, 40 mAU/mL for PIVKA-II, and 5% for AFP-L3). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) for HCC diagnosis was 0.765 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.728-0.801) for AFP; 0.823 (95% CI, 0.791-0.854) for PIVKA-II; and 0.755 (95% CI, 0.718-0.792) for AFP-L3. The AUROC for early HCC diagnosis was 0.754 (95% CI, 0.691-0.816) for AFP, 0.701 (95% CI, 0.630-0.771) for PIVKA-II, and 0.670 (95% CI, 0.596-0.744) for AFP-L3. Combining the three tumor markers increased the AUROC to 0.877 (95% CI, 0.851-0.903) for HCC diagnosis, and 0.773 (95% CI, 0.704-0.841) for early HCC diagnosis. Conclusion: Diagnostic accuracy improved upon combining the AFP, PIVKA-II, and AFP-L3 tumor markers compared to each marker alone in detecting HCC and early HCC in cirrhotic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-353
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 3


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gastroenterology

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