Background: Gastric cancer is the fifth most common malignancy worldwide. In early stages, no obvious symptoms are usually observed in gastric cancer patients, and it is especially hard to distinguish gastric cancer from benign gastric diseases, resulting in delayed diagnosis and poor prognosis. Common biomarkers of gastric cancer, such as CEA and CA19-9, are also elevated in benign diseases. There is an urgent need to develop a convenient and reliable biomarker for differentiating between gastric cancer and benign gastric diseases.
Methods: This study retrospectively analyzed the data of 126 patients, including 73 gastric cancer patients and 53 benign gastric disease patients. Patient characteristics collected for analysis included age, gender, laboratory data, and clinical staging. Unpaired t-test was used to check the difference of cholinesterase level between the gastric cancer group and the benign gastric disease group. Kruskal Wallis H test and Mann-Whitney U test were used to check the difference of cholinesterase level among different stage groups. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to assess whether cholinesterase level can be used as a biomarker for differentiating between gastric cancer and benign gastric diseases.
Results: Serum cholinesterase level was decreased significantly in the gastric cancer group in comparison to that of the benign gastric disease group (p < 0.001). In addition, cholinesterase level of stage IV patients was significantly lower than stage I patients. ROC curve analysis revealed that with a cutoff of 5,969.00 U/L, cholinesterase level showed an area under the curve of 0.819 (95% CI 0.732 - 0.905, p < 0.001) in differentiating between gastric cancer and benign gastric diseases. No significant difference in the levels of CEA and CA19-9 was observed between gastric cancer patients and benign gastric disease patients.
Conclusions: This study indicated that serum cholinesterase level could be considered as a potential biomarker for differentiating between gastric cancer and benign gastric diseases.