Serum carcino embryonic antigen monitoring in the follow up of colo rectal cancer patients with negative pre operative serum carcino embryonic antigen

Mariani, G.; Carmellini, M.; Bonaguidi, F.; Benelli, M.A.; Toni, M.G.

European Journal of Cancer 16(8): 1099-1104


ISSN/ISBN: 0959-8049
Accession: 006400182

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For at least 1 yr after surgery, 39 patients with colorectal cancer and normal preoperative levels of carcino-embryonic (CEA) were followed up with serial CEA determinations and with complete clinical and laboratory work-ups for the detection of tumor recurrence. The same testing schedule was followed in 32 colorectal cancer patients with elevated preoperative serum CEA titers in whom surgery was followed by a return to normal CEA values. In the follow-up group with negative preoperative serum CEA values, 66.7% of the patients had normal serum CEA titers, and 60% were free from symptoms of tumor recurrence 1 yr after surgery. In contrast, 28.2% of the patients of this group showed a steady rise of their serum CEA levels between 3-12 mo. after surgery; this serum CEA elevation preceded in 9 patients other evidence of tumor recurrence by an average of 3-5 mo. The above pattern was superimposable on that observed in the patients with positive preoperative serum CEA, about 1/3 of whom exhibited a steady rise of serum CEA to abnormal values (as an early indicator of tumor recurrence) in the 1st yr after surgery. Monitoring the serum CEA titers in the postoperative follow-up of patients with normal preoperative serum CEA is of value since .apprx. 1/3 of these patients may develop steadily rising serum CEA levels as an early indicator of tumor recurrence in the 1st yr after surgical treatment.