International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 1135–1141 | Cite as

Early postoperative CEA level is a better prognostic indicator than is preoperative CEA level in predicting prognosis of patients with curable colorectal cancer

  • Jen-Kou Lin
  • Chun-Chi Lin
  • Shung-Haur Yang
  • Huann-Sheng Wang
  • Jeng-Kai Jiang
  • Yuan-Tzu Lan
  • Tzu-Chen Lin
  • Anna Fen-Yau Li
  • Wei-Shone Chen
  • Shih-Ching ChangEmail author
Original Article



Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) measurements performed preoperatively and during the early postoperative period were examined prospectively to assess their prognostic value for colorectal cancer (CRC) patients receiving curative surgery.


Between 2000 and 2004, 1,361 patients with CRC who underwent curative surgery at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital were enrolled prospectively. CEA was measured prior to surgery and during the third or fourth postoperative week. The endpoint was length of postoperative disease-free survival, and prognostic importance was determined using the log-rank test and Cox regression hazard model.


Six hundred (44.1%) CRC patients had high CEA concentrations preoperatively, and 188 (13.8%) patients retained high values postoperatively. Within the median follow-up period of 61 (6–108) months, CRC recurred in 313 patients. By univariate analysis TNM staging, tumor differentiation, lymphovascular invasion, preoperative CEA concentration, and postoperative CEA concentration affected the outcome. By multivariate analysis, the prognostic importance of postoperative CEA was retained (95% CI, 1.73–3.01; HR = 2.28) but that of preoperative CEA was lost (95% CI, 0.82–1.33; HR = 1.05). CRC recurred earlier in patients with high postoperative CEA concentrations; metastasis to the liver was common (72.3%) among patients in this group.


Early postoperative CEA concentration is an independent prognostic factor for CRC. Patients with high postoperative CEA values should receive aggressive follow-up examinations for early relapse of CRC, with special attention paid to recurrence at the liver.


Carcinoembryonic antigen Colorectal cancer Curative surgery Disease-free survival Prognosis 



Carcinoembryonic antigen


Colorectal cancer


Disease-free survival

Supplementary material

384_2011_1209_MOESM1_ESM.doc (27 kb)
Table S1 Multivariate analysis for 5-year disease-free survival (DFS) stratified by tumor location (DOC 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jen-Kou Lin
    • 1
  • Chun-Chi Lin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shung-Haur Yang
    • 1
  • Huann-Sheng Wang
    • 1
  • Jeng-Kai Jiang
    • 1
  • Yuan-Tzu Lan
    • 1
  • Tzu-Chen Lin
    • 1
  • Anna Fen-Yau Li
    • 3
  • Wei-Shone Chen
    • 1
  • Shih-Ching Chang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Colon & Rectal Surgery, Department of Surgery, Taipei Veterans General HospitalNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Medical Research and Education, Taipei Veterans General HospitalNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Pathology, Taipei Veterans General HospitalNational Yang-Ming UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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