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Ann Surg Oncol. 2010 Jul;17(7):1794-801. doi: 10.1245/s10434-010-0943-1. Epub 2010 Feb 17.

Serum CA 19-9 as a marker of resectability and survival in patients with potentially resectable pancreatic cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation.

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Department of Surgery, The University of California, Orange, CA, USA.



The role of carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9 in the evaluation of patients with resectable pancreatic cancer treated with neoadjuvant therapy prior to planned surgical resection is unknown. We evaluated CA 19-9 as a marker of therapeutic response, completion of therapy, and survival in patients enrolled on two recently reported clinical trials.


We analyzed patients with radiographically resectable adenocarcinoma of the head/uncinate process treated on two phase II trials of neoadjuvant chemoradiation. Patients without evidence of disease progression following chemoradiation underwent pancreaticoduodenectomy (PD). CA 19-9 was evaluated in patients with a normal bilirubin level.


We enrolled 174 patients, and 119 (68%) completed all therapy including PD. Pretreatment CA 19-9 <37 U/ml had a positive predictive value (PPV) for completing PD of 86% but a negative predictive value (NPV) of 33%. Among patients without evidence of disease at last follow-up, the highest pretreatment CA 19-9 was 1,125 U/ml. Restaging CA 19-9 <61 U/ml had a PPV of 93% and a NPV of 28% for completing PD among resectable patients. The area under the receiver-operating characteristics curve of pretreatment and restaging CA 19-9 levels for completing PD was 0.59 and 0.74, respectively. We identified no association between change in CA 19-9 and histopathologic response (P = 0.74).


Although the PPV of CA 19-9 for completing neoadjuvant therapy and undergoing PD was high, its clinical utility was compromised by a low NPV. Decision-making for patients with resectable PC should remain based on clinical assessment and radiographic staging.

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