This study was undertaken to investigate whether serum CA 125 could complement alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) to improve the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). CA 125 showed a sensitivity of 92% for HCC against the 58.8% sensitivity of AFP at the cutoff value of 200 ng/ml. However, the former was less specific (48.5% versus 97.4%) in relation to benign liver diseases (BLD). CA 125 had a higher negative predictive value (NPV) of 84.6% compared to 69.2% for AFP; when both markers were combined, however, the NPV rose to 91.7%. Overall, AFP was more efficient than CA 125 for the diagnosis of HCC. While a positive AFP result was highly indicative of HCC, a negative result did not rule out the disease; however, negative AFP and CA 125 meant that the likelihood of the disease was low. In situations of low HCC prevalence, CA 125 could serve as a first-line screening test followed by confirmation of positives by AFP.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.