The aim of the present study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of the cytokeratin tumor marker tissue polypeptide antigen (TPA) in patients with vulvar cancer. This retrospective study comprises 41 patients with vulvar cancer FIGO stages I–III, 17 patients with vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) III, and 40 healthy female controls. Serum concentrations of TPA were measured using a microparticle enzyme immunoassay. Results were correlated to clinical data. Median serum concentrations of TPA in healthy female controls, patients with VIN III, and patients with vulvar cancer were 42 U/l (range 12–192), 53 U/l (range 17–127.9) and 57 U/l (range 4.2–423), respectively (Mann-Whitney U test, p = 0.8). Serum concentrations of TPA were not associated with stage of disease, histological grade, and age at the time of diagnosis. In vulvar cancer patients, elevated serum concentrations of TPA prior to therapy were not associated with a shortened disease-free or overall survival (log-rank test: p = 0.5 and p = 0.9, respectively). In a multivariate Cox regression model comprising tumor stage and TPA, tumor stage, but not TPA revealed a statistically significant influence on disease-free (Cox proportional hazard regression model, p = 0.05 and p = 0.6, respectively) and overall (Cox proportional hazard regression model, p = 0.04 and p = 0.8, respectively) survival of patients with vulvar cancer. We conclude that cytokeratin expression, as reflected by serum concentrations of TPA, does not play a role in the natural history of vulvar cancer. The evaluation of serum concentrations of TPA prior to therapy is not recommended.

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