Biological correlates before esophageal cancer screening and after diagnosis

Almost 50% of the world’s esophageal cancer (EC) cases occur in China, and the impact of cancer screening has long been a controversial topic. The study was designed to evaluate the biological correlates of EC screening and subsequent diagnosis in China. Based on the national cohort of esophageal cancer program, a prospective multicenter study in high-risk regions was conducted from 2017 to 2019. 61 participants received twice esophageal endoscopy screening and pathological biopsy successively (with a mean follow-up of 14.03 months). Box–Cox-power transformation and two-way repeated measures ANOVA were used to evaluate hormone cortisol and immunoglobulin (IgA, IgG, IgM) levels in plasma, reflecting their stress, immune function, and biological correlates before screening and after knowing the diagnosis. The median of cortisol, IgA, IgG, and IgM in pre-screening was 15.46 ug/dL, 1.86 g/L, 12.14 g/L, and 0.91 g/L, corresponding value at post-diagnosis was 15.30 ug/dL, 2.00 g/L, 12.79 g/L, and 0.94 g/L, respectively. No significant differences in biological indicators were found between normal and esophagitis and low-grade intraepithelial neoplasia before screening and after diagnosis.


Fig: Comparison of cortisol and immunoglobulin levels among participates at pre-screening and post-diagnosis: by esophageal pathology grades. (A) Mean values of cortisol; (B) Mean values of IgA; (C) Mean values of IgG; (D) Mean values of IgM.

After normality transformation, cortisol, IgA, IgG and IgM levels were (0.25 ± 0.04) U/mL, (0.72 ± 0.13) (g/L), (2.44 ± 0.22) (g/L) and (0.98 ± 0.25) (g/L) before screening, (0.25 ± 0.05) U/mL, (0.70 ± 0.13) (g/L), (2.48 ± 0.21) (g/L) and (1.00 ± 0.25) (g/L) after diagnosis, respectively. Repeated Measures ANOVA showed that the main effects were significant on IgA levels between pre-screening and post-diagnosis (P = 0.019). No interaction effects on biological levels between pre-post screening and esophageal pathology, anxiety states (all P > 0.05). Little biological correlates were found both before screening and after diagnosis. Cortisol and IgA dropped less significantly, while IgM and IgA were increased slightly after diagnosis. Further multi-round longitudinal studies are needed to validate these results.

Zhu, J., Ma, S., Chen, R. et al. Biological correlates before esophageal cancer screening and after diagnosis. Sci Rep 11, 17015 (2021).

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