Decreased levels of circulating sex hormones as a biomarker of lung cancer in male patients with solitary pulmonary nodules
Background: An early differentiation of malignant from benign solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs) is essential for management and prognosis of lung cancer.
Objectives: Here we investigated whether measurement of circulating sex hormones could be useful for an early detection of malignancy among patients with SPNs.
Methods: We recruited 47 patients with malignant SPNs, 45 patients with benign SPNs, and 32 healthy persons. Testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone were measured. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) as well as TNF-α, IL-1 and IL-6 were also measured.
Results: We found that sex hormones were decreased significantly in patients with malignant SPNs, as compared to patients with benign SPNs and healthy controls (P<0.05). Sex hormones levels showed a trend to decline in patients with benign SPNs as compared to normal controls, but the difference was not statistically significant (P>0.05). CEA levels were only abnormally elevated in eight patients with lung adenocarcinoma. The inflammatory cytokines were remarkably higher in both patients than in normal controls. However, there was no statistical difference in these cytokines among patients.
Conclusions: The reduced sex hormones levels seemed to be uniquely associated with lung cancer. Therefore, measurement of sex hormones may have clinical potential in the diagnosis of malignancy in patients with SPNs.
Keywords: solitary pulmonary nodules (SPNs), sex hormones, lung cancer, biomarkers
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