Aim: Serum tumour markers carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) and CA242 were investigated to evaluate the values of single and combined test in the diagnosis and prognosis of pancreatic cancer.
Methods: Pre-operative serum CEA, CA19-9 and CA242 were measured in 105 pancreatic cancers, 70 non-pancreatic malignancies and 30 benign pancreatic diseases.
Results: The sensitivity of CA19-9 alone was the highest in pancreatic cancer patients (80%), but the specificity was significantly lower than that of CEA and CA242 (P<0.01). The combination of CEA and CA242 could increase the specificity to 92%. In serum CA242 positive patients, the survival time was remarkably shorter than that of patients with negative result (P<0.01). The survival time in patients with more than two markers positive expression of CEA, CA19-9 and CA242 was obviously shorter than that of only one or no marker positive expression (P<0.05).
Conclusion: The diagnostic rate of CA19-9 in pancreatic cancer is better than that of CEA and CA242. Combined detection of CEA and CA242 can improve the diagnostic specificity obviously. High levels of serum markers are associated with advanced stage of the disease. Patients with two or three markers positive expression of CEA, CA19-9, and CA242 simultaneously had a shorter survival time.