Serum carcinoembryonic antigen (s-CEA) is used to detect recurrence and predict prognosis in colorectal cancer. However, the cutoff values of s-CEA for prognosis have not been determined. We therefore tried to determine the preoperative s-CEA levels predictive of survivals in colorectal cancer patients. We retrospectively analyzed the medical records of 989 patients who underwent curative resection for colorectal cancer between July 1990 and December 1997, with a mean follow-up of 46 months (range, 3-129 months). When patients were divided into four subgroups with the cutoff values of s-CEA at 3,6, and 17 ng/mL, their 5-yr disease-free survival rates were 85.3% (17 ng/mL) (p<0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that factors predictive of survival included age (p=0.028), tumor stage (p<0.001), cell differentiation (p=0.016), and gross type (p=0.007), location (p=0.003) and preoperative s-CEA (p<0.001). Using the above-described cutoff levels, a significant difference in survival was observed only in patients with stage III tumors (p=0.007) when analyses were performed by stage. We can suggest the new cutoff values of s-CEA used in the present study.
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