Utility of CEA and CA 19-9 tumor markers in diagnosis and prognostic assessment of mucinous epithelial cancers of the appendix

J Surg Oncol. 2004 Sep 15;87(4):162-6. doi: 10.1002/jso.20107.


Background and objectives: Tumor markers are a clinical tool frequently used in oncology in association with other clinical and radiologic information. For gastrointestinal cancer, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA 19-9) tumor markers have found selected clinical application. The use of these tumor markers in mucinous epithelial tumors of the appendix has not been previously determined.

Methods: In patients with peritoneal dissemination of a mucinous epithelial malignancy of the appendix, tumor markers CEA and CA 19-9 were prospectively recorded preoperatively within 1 week prior to definitive treatment. Also, if the appendiceal tumor recurred, the tumor marker was determined. The accuracy of these two tumor markers in the management of this disease was determined for these two specific clinical situations.

Results: CEA was elevated in 56% of 532 patients and CA 19-9 was elevated in 67.1% of these patients. Although the absolute level of tumor marker did not correlate with prognosis, a normal value indicated an improved survival. CEA was elevated in 35.2% of 110 patients determined to have recurrent disease; CA 19-9 was elevated in 62.9% and at least one of the tumor markers was elevated in 68.2% of patients. An elevated CEA tumor marker at the time of recurrence indicated a reduced prognosis.

Conclusions: Both CEA and CA 19-9 tumor markers were elevated in a majority of these patients and should be a valuable diagnostic tool previously underutilized in this group of patients. These tumor markers were also of benefit in the assessment of prognosis in that a normal level indicated an improved prognosis. At the time of a reoperative procedure, CEA and CA 19-9 tumor markers gave information regarding the progression of disease. These tumor markers have practical value in the management of epithelial appendiceal malignancy with peritoneal dissemination.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous / diagnosis
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Appendiceal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • CA-19-9 Antigen / blood*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / blood*
  • Humans
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pseudomyxoma Peritonei / diagnosis
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-19-9 Antigen
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen