PURPOSE: There is no marker capable of differentiating patients with Dukes A and B colorectal cancer with aggressive diseases from those with indolent diseases. We evaluated the results of five years of actuarial survival data to determine whether serial monitoring of serum hepatocyte growth factor could provide prognostic information on these patients. METHODS: Blood samples of 147 colorectal cancer patients were obtained and the serum concentration of hepatocyte growth factor was measured. RESULTS: Elevated serum hepatocyte growth factor levels were associated with stage progression. Although the overall positive rate of hepatocyte growth factor in the patients was the same as that of the carcinoembryonic antigen, the positive rate of hepatocyte growth factor in the Dukes A patients was two times higher than that of the carcinoembryonic antigen, and nearly 40 percent of the carcinoembryonic antigen-negative patients had a positive serum hepatocyte growth factor in the Dukes A and B classification. In this subgroup, patients with positive serum hepatocyte growth factor or carcinoembryonic antigen levels had a poorer prognosis, whereas positive serum hepatocyte growth factor level after surgery could predict disease recurrence. CONCLUSIONS: A combination of serum hepatocyte growth factor and carcinoembryonic antigen tests might be useful for selecting patients with aggressive diseases in Dukes A and B classification.
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