Background: The role of tumor markers in the diagnosis and prognosis of lung cancer is under investigation. Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the diagnostic and prognostic significance of pre-therapeutic levels of various serum tumor markers, CYFRA 21-1, neuron-specific enolase (NSE), tissue polypeptide antigen (TPA), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), CA 125 and squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCCAg), in patients with lung cancer. Methods: We studied 102 consecutive patients (mean age 65.2 ± 11 years) with newly diagnosed lung cancer (96 males, 94%, with a mean age of 66.3 ± 10.5 years). All patients had a 5-year follow-up. Measurements of the serum tumor markers were performed on initial diagnosis. Results: Eighty-four patients (82%) had non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 18 (18%) small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). From the 84 patients with NSCLC, 34 patients (33%) had squamous-cell lung cancer, 23 (22%) adenocarcinoma and 23 (22%) large-cell carcinomas. The overall median survival was 8.5 months. All SCLC patients had extensive disease with a median survival of 10.1 months and NSCLC patients of 8.4 months. Significant differences in the mean values of NSE and CYFRA 21-1 were observed between SCLC and NSCLC. In NSCLC, CYFRA 21-1, TPA, CA 125 and SCCAg serum levels were related to the stage of the disease at diagnosis, and CYFRA 21-1, NSE, TPA and CA-125 were related to a poor outcome. None of the above tumor markers was related to survival in the SCLC group. Conclusion: CYFRA 21-1 and NSE may help to differentiate cell types in lung cancer patients. Also, CYFRA 21-1 with TPA and CA 125 may provide useful information regarding the staging of the disease at diagnosis and the prognosis of patients with NSCLC.

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