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Cancer. 1978 Mar;41(3):854-62.

The use and abuse of CEA test in clinical practice.


Charts of 437 patients having plasma carcinoembryonic antigen determinations during the period January 1, 1976 through April 30, 1976 were reviewed to determine whether CEA results led to clinical decisions altering management patterns. Data analysis disclosed that CEA test results did not result in any change in management in 167 patients with non-neoplastic disease. Most had single determinations. In 270 patients with neoplastic disease, CEA results led to changes in management in one patient with lung cancer and two patients with colon cancer, which may have altered prognosis. In a fourth patient, CEA results led to discovery of unresectable pancreatic cancer at laparotomy. Cost benefit analysis indicated a CEA test cost of $5,047.50 per patient benefitted in 299 patients eligible for analysis. We conclude that maximal benefit to the patient results from serial CEA test use in follow-up of colon cancer patients after curative therapy.

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