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Simultaneous determination of serum galectin-3 and -4 levels detects metastases in colorectal cancer patients



Development of effective ways to detect metastases is highly desirable for improving the therapeutic strategies and survival of cancer patients. Serum levels of galectin-3 and -4, two members of the galactoside-binding galectin family, have recently been reported to be markedly increased up to 31-fold in the bloodstream of colorectal cancer patients and in particular those with metastases.


We found that simultaneous determination of serum galectin-3 and -4 levels in a single assay provides a high specificity and sensitivity in distinguishing colorectal cancer patients without metastases from those with liver metastases. This result was partly attributed by a reciprocal relationship of serum galectin-3 and -4 levels in patients with metastases. Higher serum galectin-3/-4 levels at the time of primary tumour removal in patients who did not exhibit clinically detectable metastases were associated with a trend of a poorer patients’ survival in the next 10 years.


Simultaneous determination of serum galectin-3 and -4 levels can potentially be used alone or in combination with other assessments to detect colorectal cancer metastases.

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This study was supported by a North West Cancer Research Fund grant CR777 (to LGY).

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Lu-Gang Yu.

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Barrow, H., Rhodes, J.M. & Yu, LG. Simultaneous determination of serum galectin-3 and -4 levels detects metastases in colorectal cancer patients. Cell Oncol. 36, 9–13 (2013).

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  • Galectin-3
  • Galectin-4
  • Metastasis
  • Colorectal cancer