Are Serum Ferritin Levels a Reliable Cancer Biomarker? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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2021-01-01

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Although serum ferritin (SF) has been shown in several studies to be a potential cancer biomarker, the results are inconsistent. Herein, a systematic review was performed to investigate the clinical SF levels in different types of tumors in order to verify the role of SF levels as a biomarker for cancer diagnosis. The search was performed using the PubMed/Medline, Cochrane Library, and Scopus databases. Observational studies comparing SF levels between healthy adults and patients with cancer were included. The meta-analysis was carried out according to the inverse variance and random effects model. The standardized mean differences (SMDs) were assessed at 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We found that SF was higher in patients with cancer (SMD 3.07; CI 1.96,4.17), especially for head and neck cancer (SMD 3.88; CI 0.42,7.34), lung cancer (SMD 1.72; CI 0.67,2.78), pancreatic cancer (SMD 6.79; CI 5.66,7.91), and renal cell carcinoma (SMD 1.77; CI 0.48,3.05). Moreover, in the advanced stages (Stages III and IV), ferritin levels were higher than in healthy adults (SMD 4.89; CI 2.72,7.06, and SMD 8.40; CI 6.99,9.82, respectively). SF acts as a biomarker for pancreatic cancer, renal cell carcinoma, lung cancer, and head and neck cancer and is a sensitive biomarker for the detection of advanced stages of tumors.

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Nutrition and Cancer.

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