, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 35-41

Pretreatment CA 19-9 level as a prognostic factor in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer treated with gemcitabine

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Summary

Background. Serum levels of CA 19-9 correlate with survival among patients with pancreatic cancer treated with surgery or radiation therapy. In addition, CA 19-9 responses have been shown to predict for a better prognosis among patients with advanced disease treated with chemotherapy. The present study evaluates the predictive role of CA 19-9 pretreatment levels and response among patients treated with gemcitabine.

Methods. We retrospectively identified 28 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer and baseline elevations of CA 19-9 (>37 U/mL) who were treated with single agent gemcitabine. CA 19-9 response was defined as a ≥50% decline at any time after treatment. Survival was estimated with the Kaplan-Meier method, and curves were compared with the log-rank test.

Results. Eleven patients (39%) had a CA 19-9 response. The median survival of responding patients was longer than that of non-responding patients (13.8 vs 8 mo, p=.0272). When pretreatment CA 19-9 levels were analyzed, patients who had CA 19-9 below the median for the entire sample (1212 U/mL) lived significantly longer than patients with a CA 19-9 above the median (14.9 vs 7.4 mo, p=.0013). On multivariable analysis, pretreatment CA 19-9 level was an independent, and stronger predictor of survival (p=.0005) than CA 19-9 response (p=.0497). Other variables were not associated with survival.

Conclusions. CA 19-9 may be a useful adjunct to response evaluation is this setting. In addition to CA 19-9 responses, prechemotherapy levels of this marker seem to have strong prognostic significance.