BACKGROUND. Serum tissue polypeptide specific antigen (TPS) is a useful cell proliferation marker in diagnosing and monitoring patients with a variety of malignancies. The objective of this study was to determine the usefulness of serum TPS as a noninvasive prognostic factor for early recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after patients undergo curative resection. METHODS. Serum TPS levels were measured by monoclonal TPS immunoradiometric assay in 54 patients shortly before they underwent curative resection for HCC. The recurrence time was correlated with the TPS level and with other prognostic factors using the log-rank test in univariate analysis and a Cox regression in multivariate analysis. Receiver operating characteristic analysis was performed to examine the power of the various prognostic factors to distinguish between patients with recurrent tumors and patients who were disease free. RESULTS. Patients who had higher levels of TPS (≥ 150 U/L) had earlier recurrences compared with patients who had lower levels of TPS (< 150 U/L; P = 0.016) in univariate analysis. Tumor size, the number of tumors, portal vein invasion, and the resection margins also were associated significantly with the time to tumor recurrence (P = 0.015, P = 0.004, P = 0.003, and P = 0.003, respectively). Serum α-fetoprotein was not a significant risk factor for tumor recurrence. In multivariate analysis, the TPS level, tumor size, and resection margins were independent prognostic factors (P = 0.025, P = 0.018, and P = 0.016, respectively). The inclusion of TPS in addition to tumor size and resection margins increased the rate of corrective prediction from 0.72 to 0.80. CONCLUSIONS. The current study demonstrated that the preoperative serum TPS level was a significant factor in predicting early recurrence of HCC after curative resection. Patients with high serum TPS levels warrant more aggressive treatment and close follow-up after they undergo tumor resection.
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