INTRODUCTION: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common cancer in men and women. There are many serological tumor markers for the diagnosis of HCC. These are alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), des-gamma-carboxyprothrombin, vitamin B12 binding protein and HCC associated alkaline phosphatase. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possibility of using vitamin B12 as a tumor marker for HCC.
METHODS: This cross sectional study was performed during a 2 year period, and serum samples were obtained from 38 HCC, 57 non-cancerous cirrhotic and 82 healthy control groups. Vitamin B12 levels were determined by using an automated chemiluminescence system test kit.
RESULTS: All HCC patients also had an underlying cirrhotic pattern. The period of the previous liver disease was 30.7±26.3 month in cirrhotic patients and 15.4±10 month in the HCC group. AFP and vitamin B12 levels in HCC patients were significantly higher (median AFP: 219 ng/ml, median B12: 1106 ng/ml) than cirhosis patients (median AFP: 9,7 ng/ml, median B12: 445 ng/ml) and control group (median B12: 442 ng/ml) (p<0,001). In the HCC group, there was a good positive correlation between level of vitamin B12 and AFP (p: 0.002) but this correlation was not appeared in cirhosis group. We also examined whether the correlation between the tumor size and vitamin B12 levels and AFP levels. We didnt found any correlation between these parameters (p>0.05).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Vitamin B12 levels can be useful as tumor marker in addition to other tumor markers and imaging modalities. Additional studies must be done related to this subject and the other liver masses without malignancies.