Preoperative Carcinoembryonic Antigen and Albumin in Predicting Survival in Patients With Colon and Rectal Carcinomas

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To examine the relationship between postoperative outcomes of colorectal carcinoma patients and preoperative serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and albumin (ALB) levels and evaluate if these levels can accurately predict outcomes and/or be factor indicating adjuvant chemotherapy.


CEA is a marker for colorectal carcinoma and its level usually increases before a distant metastasis is detected. Also, a low level of serum ALB is usually found in metastatic colorectal carcinoma patients.


A retrospective cohort study of patients with colorectal carcinomas who were treated with curative surgery in Songklanagarind Hospital between 1998 and 2002.


One hundred seventy patients were identified with a median survival of 1131 days (range 71 to 2293 d) and with an overall 5-year survival rate of 54%. Patients were stratified using CEA at 5 ng/mL and an ALB level at 3.5 g/dL into 4 groups: (1) low CEA, high ALB; (2) low CEA, low ALB; (3) high CEA, high ALB; and (4) high CEA, low ALB. The 5-year survival rates for groups 1 to 4 were 66%, 63%, 46%, and 34%, respectively. There was statistically significant difference in 5-year survival between the well-differentiated tumor with low CEA and the poorly differentiated tumor with high CEA (P=0.0115). The high CEA patients who had the well-differentiated tumor had longer survival than those with a poorly differentiated tumor (P=0.0412).


A preoperative CEA level greater than or equal to 5 ng/mL and ALB level less than 3.5 g/dL predict a poor survival chance for colorectal carcinoma patients. In high CEA patients, tumor differentiated is an independent factor affecting survival.

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