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J R Soc Med. 1980 January; 73(1): 23–28.
PMCID: PMC1440054

Evaluation of CEA in patients with known residual disease after resection of colonic cancer1


Serial carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels were measured in 43 patients following incomplete excision of colorectal cancer. Twenty-seven patients received chemotherapy. In the majority the subsequent elevation of CEA could be related to clinical progression, but some patients receiving chemotherapy may have a suppressed rate of CEA rise and may have a more prolonged survival.

The clinical application of serial CEA estimations remains of dubious value. However, one area which may be worthy of study is to determine whether suppression of the CEA slope by chemotherapy is attended by clinical control and an improved survival.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Gold P, Freedman SO. Specific carcinoembryonic antigens of the human digestive system. J Exp Med. 1965 Sep 1;122(3):467–481. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Herrera MA, Chu TM, Holyoke ED, Mittelman A. CEA monitoring of palliative treatment for colorectal carcinoma. Ann Surg. 1977 Jan;185(1):23–30. [PubMed]
  • Laurence DJ, Stevens U, Bettelheim R, Darcy D, Leese C, Turberville C, Alexander P, Johns EW, Neville AM. Role of plasma carcinoembryonic antigen in diagnosis of gastrointestinal, mammary, and bronchial carcinoma. Br Med J. 1972 Sep 9;3(5827):605–609. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Livingstone AS, Hampson LG, Shuster J, Gold P, Hinchey EJ. Carcinoembryonic antigen in the diagnosis and management of colorectal carcinoma. Current status. Arch Surg. 1974 Aug;109(2):259–264. [PubMed]
  • Mach JP, Jaeger P, Bertholet MM, Ruegsegger CH, Loosli RM, Pettavel J. Detection of recurrence of large-bowel carcinoma by radioimmunoassay of circulating carcinoembryonic antigen (C.E.A.). Lancet. 1974 Sep 7;2(7880):535–540. [PubMed]
  • Minton JP, James KK, Hurtubise PE, Rinker L, Joyce S, Martin EW., Jr The use of serial carcinoembryonic antigen determinations to predict recurrence of carcinoma of the colon and the time for a second-look operation. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1978 Aug;147(2):208–210. [PubMed]
  • Moertel CG, Schutt AJ, Go VL. Carcinoembryonic antigen test for recurrent colorectal carcinoma. Inadequacy for early detection. JAMA. 1978 Mar 13;239(11):1065–1066. [PubMed]
  • Nicholson JR, Aust JC. Rising carcinoembryonic antigen titers in colorectal carcinoma: an indication for the second-look procedure. Dis Colon Rectum. 1978 Apr;21(3):163–164. [PubMed]
  • Ravry M, Moertel CG, Schutt AJ, Go VL. Usefulness of serial serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) determinations during anticancer therapy or long-term follow-up of gastrointestinal carcinoma. Cancer. 1974 Oct;34(4):1230–1234. [PubMed]
  • Shani A, O'Connell MJ, Moertel CG, Schutt AJ, Silvers A, Go VL. Serial plasma carcinoembryonic antigen measurements in the management of metastatic colorectal carcinoma. Ann Intern Med. 1978 May;88(5):627–630. [PubMed]
  • Staab HJ, Anderer FA, Stumpf E, Fischer R. Slope analysis of the postoperative CEA time course and its possible application as an aid in diagnosis of disease progression in gastrointestinal cancer. Am J Surg. 1978 Sep;136(3):322–327. [PubMed]

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