Published online Jan 14, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i2.266
Peer-review started: October 27, 2017
First decision: November 14, 2017
Revised: November 18, 2017
Accepted: December 5, 2017
Article in press: December 5, 2017
Published online: January 14, 2018
To investigate predictive and prognostic value of serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level and its dynamic changes in patients with advanced gastric cancer with elevated serum AFP (AFPAGC).
One hundred and five patients with AFPAGC were enrolled in the study, and all of them underwent at least one cycle of systemic chemotherapy at our institute and had serum AFP ≥ 20 ng/mL at diagnosis or recurrence. Clinicopathologic features, serum AFP level at diagnosis and changes during treatment, first-line chemotherapy regimens, efficacy and toxicity, and survival information were collected. A Person’s χ2 or Fisher’s exact test was used to measure the differences between variables. Survival prognostic factors were investigated using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression.
Median serum AFP level was 161.7 ng/mL (range, 22.9-2557110 ng/mL). Objective response rates (ORR) was significantly lower in the AFP ≥ 160 ng/mL group than in the AFP < 160 ng/mL group (30.4% vs 68.3%, P < 0.001). ORR to doublet regimens was significantly lower in the AFP ≥ 160 ng/mL group, whereas ORR to triplet regimens was similar between the two groups. Liver metastasis rate was significantly higher in the AFP ≥ 160 ng/mL group than in the AFP < 160 ng/mL (69.8% vs 50.0%, P < 0.001). Overall survival (OS) in the two cohorts did not show any significant difference (P = 0.712). Dynamic changes of AFP were consistent with response to chemotherapy, and median OS of patients with a serum AFP decline ≥ 50% and those with a serum AFP decline < 50% was 17.5 m and 10.0 m, respectively (P = 0.003). Hepatic (P = 0.005), peritoneal (P < 0.001), non-regional lymph node metastasis (P < 0.001), and portal vein tumor thrombus (PVTT) (P = 0.042) were identified as independent prognostic factors for AFPAGC.
Real-time examination of AFP has great predictive and prognostic value for managing AFPAGC. For those with markedly elevated AFP, triplet regimens may be a better choice.
Core tip: Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)-producing gastric cancer is a rare and aggressive subtype of gastric cancer, characterized by frequent liver metastasis and poor prognosis. We measured AFP and its changes over time during treatment, which revealed that AFP, as a biomarker of advanced gastric cancer with elevated serum AFP (AFPAGC), is significantly associated with response to chemotherapy. The decline in AFP after chemotherapy was found to be related to good prognosis for AFPAGC. We finally attempted to find an optimal treatment regimen for AFPAGC, which suggests that for those with markedly elevated AFP, triplet regimens may be a better choice.