Measurement of Lung Cancer Tumor Markers in a Glass Wool Company Workers Exposed to Respirable Synthetic Vitreous Fiber and Dust

Shabnam Abtahi, Mahyar Malekzadeh, Ghafour Nikravan, Abbas Ghaderi


Background: Occupational exposures to respirable synthetic vitreous fiber (SVF) and dust are associated with many lung diseases including lung cancer. Low-dose computed tomography is used for screening patients who are highly suspicious of having lung carcinoma. However, it seems not to be cost-effective. Serum biomarkers could be a useful tool for the surveillance of occupational exposure, by providing the possibility of diagnosing lung cancer in its early stages.

Objective: To determine if serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and cytokeratin fragment (CYFRA) 21-1 levels in workers exposed more than normal population to respirable SVF and dust may be used as indicators of progression towards lung cancer.

Methods: An analytic cross-sectional study, including 145 personnel of a glass wool company, along with 25 age-matched healthy individuals, was conducted to investigate the relationship between occupational exposure to respirable SVFs and dust and serum levels of two lung/pleura serum tumor markers, CEA and CYFRA 21-1, measured by ELISA.

Results: Individuals exposed to higher than the recommended levels of respirable SVF had higher serum concentrations of CEA and CYFRA 21-1, compared to controls (p=0.008 and 0.040, respectively), as well as in comparison to those exposed to lower than recommended OSHA levels (p=0.046 and 0.033, respectively). Workers with >9 years work experience, had significantly (p=0.045) higher levels of serum CYFRA 21-1 than those with ≤9 years of experience.

Conclusion: It seems that working for >9 years in sites with detectable levels of respirable SVF and dust would increase the levels of known lung cancer serum tumor markers. Transferring these workers to sites with respirable SVF concentrations lower than the limit of detection in the air is recommended.


CYFRA 21-1; Carcinoembryonic antigen; lung neoplasms; Occupational health; Synthetic vitreous fiber; Dust

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2018.1147

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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