Limited Diagnostic Utility of Chromogranin A Measurements in Workup of Neuroendocrine Tumors

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BACKGROUND: Plasma chromogranin A (CgA) is related to tumor burden and recommended in the follow-up of patients diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). The use of CgA in the workup of a suspected NET is more questionable.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the positive predictive value (PPV) of CgA plasma concentrations above the upper reference limit (URL) in patients with suspected NET.

METHOD: Patients referred to the NET Centre, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen from 2015 to 2019 with clinically suspected NET were included if a CgA measurement was performed prior to referral. The utility of CgA was assessed by comparing pre-referral CgA concentrations to the outcome of a thorough workup. In 47 selected cases with continuously unexplained elevated CgA concentrations, a processing-independent analysis (PIA) for CgA was performed.

RESULTS: A total of 197 patients were included. NET was ultimately diagnosed in 25 patients. CgA plasma concentrations were above the URL (elevated) in 19/25 patients diagnosed with NET. In total, 167/197 had elevated CgA concentrations at referral. The positive predictive value (PPV) of elevated CgA concentration was 11% (19/167). Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) treatment was identified as the possible cause of CgA elevation in 55/148 patients with falsely elevated CgA. CgA concentration was normal in 28/47 patients when using PIA.

CONCLUSION: Our data do not support using measurement of CgA for screening when NET is suspected since the PPV was rather low. PPI treatment is a common cause of increased CgA concentrations and should always be discontinued before CgA measurement. PIA of CgA could be a way of excluding NET when suspicion is based primarily on elevated CgA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number881
Issue number11
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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