According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, levels of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and albumin (ALB) are associated with survival among patients with early colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Early colorectal cancer refers to cancer that has not spread from the colon to distant sites in the body. This stage of disease has favorable long-term survival; however, survival rates for colorectal caner vary considerably. Therefore, researchers are evaluating which variables may predict differences in survival rates; such information may allow treatment to become more individualized.
Levels of the protein CEA in the blood may be indicative of the presence or spread of colon cancer. ALB, also a protein that can be measured in the blood, may also indicate some levels of cancerous activity. Researchers are still evaluating CEA and ALB levels and their potential associations with outcomes among cancer patients.
Researchers recently evaluated data to determine the relationship of CEA and ALB levels prior to treatment among patients with early colon cancer. This study included 170 patients who were divided into four groups: 1) low CEA levels and high ALB levels; 2) low CEA and low ALB; 3) high CEA and high ALB; 4) high CEA and low ALB.
- At five years, survival rates were 66% for group 1, 63% for group 2, 46% for group 3, and 34% for group 4.
The researchers concluded that levels of CEA and ALB prior to treatment are significantly associated with long-term survival among patients with early colorectal cancer. These results add to a growing body of evidence that suggests specific cancer and patient characteristics may greatly affect outcomes among patients diagnosed with early colorectal cancer. These findings may ultimately aid in individualizing treatment for these patients.
Reference: Boonpipattanapong T, Chewatanakornkul S, et al. Preoperative Carcinoembryonic Antigen and Albumin in Predicting Survival in Patients With Colon and Rectal Carcinomas. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology . 2006;40:592-595.