Cyst Fluid Carcinoembryonic Antigen Is an Accurate Diagnostic Marker of Pancreatic Mucinous Cysts

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Abstract

Objectives:

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) may offer a diagnostic tool through the combination of imaging and guided fine-needle aspiration of pancreatic cysts. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the most accurate test for differentiating mucinous from nonmucinous cysts.

Methods:

The results of EUS imaging, cytology, and cyst fluid biochemical markers were prospectively collected and compared in a large single-center study (776 patients) using histology or malignant cytology as the final diagnostic standard in 198 patients.

Results:

The mean cyst fluid carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was greater in mucinous cysts (4703.0 ng/mL) compared with nonmucinous cysts (25.8 ng/mL) (P = 0.008). When using the optimal cutoff value of 109.9 ng/mL, the CEA was more accurate (86%, receiver operating characteristic area = 0.928) than EUS imaging (48%) and cytology (58%) in predicting a mucinous cyst (P < 0.0001). Malignant cysts had a mean cyst fluid CEA value (2558.2 ng/mL) similar to benign cysts (4700.2 ng/mL). Cytology (75%) more accurately diagnosed malignant cysts than EUS (66%) and CEA (62%) (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

Cyst fluid CEA concentration provides a highly accurate test for the diagnosis of a mucinous cyst, but does not distinguish benign from malignant cysts. Cytology is the most accurate test for the diagnosis of a malignant cyst.

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