Use of carcinoembryonic antigen radioimmunodetection and computed tomography for predicting the resectability of recurrent colorectal cancer

Ann Surg. 1997 Nov;226(5):621-31. doi: 10.1097/00000658-199711000-00007.


Objective: The objective was to determine the role of arcitumomab (CEA-Scan; Immunomedics, Morris Plains, NJ), an anticarcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) Fab' labeled with technetium-99m, in the presurgical evaluation of patients with recurrent or metastatic colorectal carcinoma.

Summary background data: Surgical resection is the only method known to cure recurrent or metastatic colorectal carcinoma. The location and extent of disease must be determined before surgery. The role of antibody imaging, a new cancer detection modality, in preoperative evaluation for resection of locally recurrent or metastatic colorectal cancer has not been established, either alone or in combination with standard diagnostic modalities.

Methods: In a blinded analysis of 209 patients with known or suspected colorectal cancer, the accuracy of arcitumomab, alone and combined with computed tomography (CT), was compared to that of CT for predicting abdominopelvic tumor resectability by correlating the results with surgical and histopathologic findings.

Results: Arcitumomab alone or combined with CT was found to be significantly more accurate for predicting surgical outcome than CT alone. When the results of CT and arcitumomab were concordant for abdominopelvic resectability, nonresectability, or absence of disease, the prediction was accurate in 67%, 100%, and 64%, respectively. Thus, the concordance for nonresectability (100% correct) may obviate the need for other diagnostic modalities or exploratory surgery. When the two tests were discordant, arcitumomab was correct substantially more often than CT. Because the liver is the most common site of distant metastasis in colorectal cancer, a subset of patients with hepatic disease was also analyzed; findings were similar to the overall resectability results. The product's safety profile was excellent: the incidence of induction of an immune response against arcitumomab was <1% and that of potentially adverse events was 1.2%.

Conclusions: The accuracy of arcitumomab for assessing resectability status is greater than that of CT, both in all patients undergoing evaluation for curative abdominopelvic resection of colorectal cancer and in the subset of patients with suspected or proven liver metastases. The additional use of arcitumomab with CT potentially doubles the number of patients who could be saved the cost, morbidity, and mortality of unnecessary abdominopelvic surgery and increases those who are potentially resectable for cure by 40%.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal* / immunology
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organotechnetium Compounds*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Technetium*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Organotechnetium Compounds
  • technetium Tc-99m arcitumomab
  • Technetium