Introduction: Most of the subjects undergoing diagnostic colonoscopy do not have neoplastic bowel lesions. Potentially, some of the symptoms may therefore be caused by extracolonic malignancy, and subjects with persisting symptoms may need subsequent examinations. Blood-based, cancer-associated biomarkers may aid in directing the examinations for other specific malignant diseases.
Methods: EDTA plasma samples available from a previous prospective study of subjects undergoing diagnostic colonoscopy were used for analysis of 18 protein biomarkers. The study population of 3732 subjects included 400 patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and 177 patients with extracolonic malignancies. Univariable analysis of the association of specific biomarkers and extracolonic cancers included those with 10 or more cases. Subsequently, reduced models of 4 or 6 biomarkers, respectively, were established by choosing those with the highest likelihood; age and sex were included as well.
Results: Univariable analyses showed that CyFra21-1 had an area under curve (AUC) of 0.87 for lung cancers (n = 33), CA19-9 had an AUC of 0.85 for pancreatic cancer (n = 22), CA125 had an AUC of 0.95 for ovary cancer (n = 16), B2M had an AUC of 0.81 for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 12), and total prostate-specific antigen had an AUC of 0.99 for prostate cancer (n = 10). The multivariable analysis of 4 or 6 biomarkers plus age and sex as explanatory variables showed AUCs of 0.82 to 0.85 both for extracolonic cancers and CRC. The 4 biomarkers included in the model for detection of extracolonic cancers were CA125, hsCRP, CA19-9, and CyFra21-1; the 2 additional for the 6 biomarkers model were CEA and Galectin-3. Similarly, the 4 biomarkers included in the model for detection of CRC were CEA, CyFra21-1, Ferritin, and HE4; the two additional for the 6 biomarkers model were hsCRP and Pepsinogen 2.
Conclusions: Results of this study indicate that it may be possible to detect subjects that have an increased risk of extracolonic cancer following a colonoscopy without findings of neoplastic lesions. Combinations of various protein biomarkers may direct subsequent examination after colonoscopy with clean colorectum. The results, although preliminary, may form the basis for additional research directed both for primary examinations of subjects with symptoms of malignancy and subsequent examinations after colonoscopy.