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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Jun 20;24(18):2897-902.

Perioperative CA19-9 levels can predict stage and survival in patients with resectable pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.



Different prognostic factors stratify patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The purpose of this study was to determine whether preoperative CA19-9 levels can predict stage of disease or survival and whether a change in preoperative to postoperative CA19-9 or the postoperative CA19-9 predicts overall survival.


Four hundred twenty-four consecutive patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma underwent resection between January 1, 1985 and January 1, 2004. Of the patients with a bilirubin less than 2 mg/dL, 176 had preoperative CA19-9 values, and 111 had pre- and postoperative CA19-9 values. Survival was measured from the first postoperative CA19-9 level measured (median, 39 days) until death or last follow-up. A multivariate failure time model was fit using clinical, operative, pathologic, and adjuvant treatment characteristics, and a categorization was defined by the values and changes in CA19-9 before and after surgery.


Of the 176 patients, 128 (73%) had T3 lesions, and 99 (56%) had N1 disease; 138 patients (78%) underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy. Median preoperative CA19-9 levels were lower in N0 patients compared with patients with positive nodes (nine v 164 U/mL, respectively; nonparametric P = .06) and in T1/T2 patients versus T3 patients (41 v 162 U/mL, respectively; P = .03). Median follow-up time (n = 111) was 1.8 years (range, 1 to 12.9 years), with overall actuarial 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates of 70%, 36%, and 30%, respectively. Significant predictors of survival on multivariate analysis included a decrease in CA19-9 (P = .0005), negative lymph nodes (P = .001), lower T stage (P = .0008), and postoperative CA19-9 less than 200 U/mL (P = .0007).


In patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, preoperative CA19-9 correlates with stage of disease. Both a postoperative decrease in CA19-9 and a postoperative CA19-9 value of less than 200 U/mL are strong independent predictors of survival, even after adjusting for stage. CA19-9 levels should be included in a patient's perioperative care and should be considered for prognostic nomograms.

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