Actual half-life of alpha-fetoprotein as a prognostic tool in pediatric malignant tumors
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In a retrospective study, the prognostic value of monitoring the decay of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) was assessed. Serum AFP was determined serially in 18 children with malignant germ-cell or hepatic tumors: 7 endodermal sinus tumor, 3 embryonal carcinoma, 5 malignant teratoma, 2 hepatoblastomas, and 1 hepatocellular carcinoma. The actual half-life (AHL) of AFP was computed after surgical resection of the tumor. In group 1, which had complete resection and no recurrence during follow-up (n = 13), the AHL of AFP was 4.0 ± 0.9 days. In group 2, which had incomplete resection or recurrence during follow-up (n = 5), the AHL of AFP was 24.8 ± 20 days, significantly longer than that of group 1 (P = 0.0026). The increased AHL of AFP indicated residual active tumor after surgical resection. The AHL of AFP may be more sensitive than serial monitoring of AFP in detecting preclinical recurrence after surgical resection of AFP-secreting tumors. Treatment strategies can be based on AFP clearance, and prospective clinical trials are warranted.
Key wordsActual half-life Alpha-fetoprotein Malignant germ-cell tumor Hepatic malignancy
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