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Ferritin as an independent mortality predictor in patients with pancreas cancer. Results of a pilot study

Tumor Biology

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Prognosis of patients with pancreas cancer is very poor. The aim of the study was to test the significance of laboratory parameters in the prognosis of patients with pancreas cancer. The studied group included 57 patients (31 men, 26 women, mean age 65 ± 9 years). Blood was collected at the time of diagnosis of pancreas cancer and basic laboratory parameters, including nutritional and inflammatory markers and tumour markers were measured. Patients were followed up until death (median survival 147 days). Ferritin, iron, albumin, prealbumin, cholinesterase, haemoglobin, C-reactive protein, alkaline phosphatase and carcinoembryonic antigen were significant for patients’ prognosis in univariate analysis while CA 19-9, bilirubin, liver, pancreas and kidney tests and lipids were not. Multivariate Cox regression demonstrated ferritin, iron and albumin as independent mortality predictors (RR (95%CI), per standard deviation: ferritin 1.497(1.215–2.241), p = 0.002; albumin, 0.716(0.521–0.977), p = 0.035; iron, 0.678(0.504–0.915), p = 0.010). Iron correlated significantly with albumin (r = 0.397, p = 0.002) but neither iron nor albumin correlated with ferritin. Patients who survived 100 days had significantly lower ferritin (median 239 μg/l vs. non-survivors 435 μg/l, p = 0.014), significantly higher albumin but the difference in serum iron was not quite significant. ROC analysis for ferritin revealed AUC for 100 days survival of 0.710, p = 0.007 (and 0.725, p = 0.004 for 200 days survival). AUC for albumin for 100 days survival was not significant (p = 0.073). This study points out ferritin as an independent mortality predictor in patients with pancreas cancer. High serum levels of ferritin at the time of diagnosis of pancreas cancer indicate bad prognosis of the patient.

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Area under the curve


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This study was supported by research projects LM 2010004 BBMRI_CZ, MPO TIP FR-TI3/666 and by grant IGA MZ ČR NS 9769-4.

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Correspondence to Marta Kalousová.

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Previous presentation of the manuscript: oral presentation at the 39th ISOBM Congress (Congress of the International Society of Oncology and Biomarkers) 15.10.–19.10.2011 Florence, Italy.

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Kalousová, M., Krechler, T., Jáchymová, M. et al. Ferritin as an independent mortality predictor in patients with pancreas cancer. Results of a pilot study. Tumor Biol. 33, 1695–1700 (2012).

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