Diagnostic Value of Neuron-Specific Enolase (NSE) and Cancer Antigen 15-3 (CA 15-3) in the Diagnosis of Pleural Effusions

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Internal Medicine, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, Iran.

2 Department of Pathology, Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, Iran.

3 Anatomical Sciences Research Center, kashan university of medical sciences


Introduction: Pleural effusion diagnosis plays an important role in determining treatment strategies. The aim of this study was to determine the diagnostic capacity of tumor markers CA 15-3 and NSE solely or in combination in differentiating the nature of pleural fluid. Methods and Materials: In this cross-sectional study we evaluated 93 patients with pleural effusions (44 malignant and 49 benign). NSE and CA 15-3 serum and pleural levels were measured simultaneously using immunoenzyme assay kits. Diagnosis was established on the basis of cytological study. Results: Sensitivity and specificity of CA 15-3 serum and pleural level measurement were 70.4%, 49.0%, and 79.5% and 49.0%, respectively. Serum NSE levels had 75.0% sensitivity and 69.4% specificity while the respective pleural figures were 75.0% and 73.5%. The combination of NSE and CA 15-3 serum and pleural levels had the highest sensitivity (93.2%), although combined serum levels had the lowest sensitivity (47.7%). With an accuracy of 74.2%, pleural levels of NSE had the highest diagnostic potential. Conclusion: Measuring NSE and CA 15-3 tumor markers is a suitable approach to distinguish the nature of pleural effusions, with NSE pleural levels demonstrating the highest diagnostic accuracy.


Main Subjects

Volume 18, Issue 1
January 2017
Pages 257-261
  • Receive Date: 03 January 2017
  • Revise Date: 13 January 2017
  • Accept Date: 12 February 2017
  • First Publish Date: 12 February 2017