Serum ferritin, described as increased in patients with pancreatic cancer, was studied in 109 subjects by an immunoradiometric technique in order to assess its reliability in detecting pancreatic malignancy. A significant increase of serum ferritin was found in pancreatic cancer as compared to controls (p < 0.01), to calcifying (p < 0.05), non-calcifying (p < 0.05), and recurrent (p < 0.01) chronic pancreatitis. Nevertheless, high levels of serum ferritin were found in 10 out of the 36 chronic pancreatitis patients and in 10 out of the 26 patients with non-pancreatic diseases, whilst values within the normal range were detected in 6 out of the 22 pancreatic cancer patients. These data suggest that serum ferritin, although frequently increased in pancreatic cancer, cannot be considered a marker of pancreatic malignancy.

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