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Anticancer Res. 1999 Sep-Oct;19(5C):4485-9.

Long-term follow-up study in breast cancer patients using serum tumor markers CEA and CA 15-3.

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Dept. of Surgical and Gastroenterologic Sciences, University of Padua, School of Medicine, Italy.


The aim of this study was to evaluate CEA and CA 15-3 changes in patients surgically treated for breast cancer. One hundred and three women (median age 59 years, range 31-83 years) with pT1-2, pN0-1, M0 breast cancer were followed up for at least 5 years. CEA and CA 15-3 serum levels were measured before operation and every 6 months during follow-up. The diagnostic sensitivity of CEA and CA 15-3 was 22.3% and 33.3% respectively. There was a significant difference (p < 0.01) between pre- and post-operative (6 months and 5 years after surgery) mean CEA serum levels independent of TNM staging. During follow-up, 21 (20.4%) patients showed recurrence of cancer and overall CEA and CA 15-3 sensitivity was 38.1% and 61.1%, with 98.8% and 91.2% specificity, respectively. Tumor marker measurement may be useful in post-surgical follow-up, but at present they are neither sensitive nor specific enough for early diagnosis of malignancy.

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