Re-operation for recurrent colorectal cancer: the importance of early diagnosis for resectability and survival

Eur J Surg Oncol. 1990 Aug;16(4):319-25.


Between 1978 and 1986, 179 patients with recurrent colorectal cancer were treated and 137 patients were operated a second time.82.1% of the patients showed elevated CEA levels (greater than or equal to 5 ng/ml) at the time of diagnosis. In 58.1% of the patients the CEA increase preceded the recognition of recurrence, and in 13.4% the diagnosis could be confirmed only by a second-look operation. In 46.7% of the re-operated patients a potentially curative resection of the locally recurrent or metastatic disease could be performed. The resectability was significantly lower in patients with symptomatic recurrent disease (34.5%) as compared to asymptomatic patients with CEA-directed positive imaging (52.7%) and the second-look patients (62.5%) respectively. A significant improvement in survival could be achieved especially in the second-look operated patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation
  • Survival Rate


  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen