SCC Antigen Concentrations in Fine-Needle Aspiration Samples to Detect Cervical Lymph Node Metastases: A Prospective Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


OBJECTIVE: To determine the diagnostic value of measuring squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC-Ag) and cancer antigen 15-3 (CA15-3) concentrations in fine-needle aspiration (FNA) samples for the detection of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) metastases in cervical lymph nodes.

STUDY DESIGN: A prospective study with patients consecutively included between November 2018 and May 2021.

SETTING: A tertiary head and neck oncologic center.

METHODS: Out of 138 patients, SCC-Ag concentrations were analyzed in 168 FNA cervical lymph node samples and CA15-3 in 152 samples. Results were compared with FNA cytology (FNAC) or definitive histology to establish sensitivity and specificity rates.

RESULTS: For the detection of cervical SCC lymph node metastases, SCC-Ag measurement had an 89.4% sensitivity and 79.3% specificity at a cutoff concentration of 0.1 µg/L. Measurement of CA15-3 concentration in addition to SCC-Ag concentration did not lead to improved accuracy for the detection of SCC. In histology-confirmed cases, FNAC had an 80.0% sensitivity and 100% specificity, as opposed to 93.3% and 57.1%, respectively, for SCC-Ag.

CONCLUSION: Measurement of SCC-Ag concentration for detection of SCC lymph node metastases has a sensitivity at least comparable to FNAC and could be used as a relatively cheap screening tool in samples with nondiagnostic or indeterminate FNAC results or when multiple lymph nodes are sampled. However, SCC-Ag in FNA samples has a lower specificity than FNAC assessed by pathologists experienced in head and neck oncology. Addition of CA15-3 measurement did not lead to improved accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number01945998221102870
Pages (from-to)407-412
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
Early online date31-May-2022
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2023


  • SCC-Ag
  • mucin 1
  • fine-needle aspiration
  • tumor marker
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • lymph node
  • HEAD
  • MUC1

Cite this