Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Tumor marker levels elevate false-positively in postsurgical Breast Cancer patients with high sgpt levels or with receiving oral 5-FU or its derivatives

  • 27 Accesses



False elevation of tumor marker levels (TM) has been encountered in some postsurgical breast cancer patients.


We investigated 33 postsurgical breast cancer patients whose TM (CEA, CA15-3, NCC-ST-439, or BCA225) measured every 3 months, showed elevation 3 times in a row in a 6-month period, and in whom metastases were not detected at the end of the 6-month period. Nine patients developed recurrence within 36 months of the end of the 6-month period and 24 patients did not develop recurrence for more than 36 months after the end of the 6-month period.


Seven patients who stopped treatment with oral 5-FU or its derivatives because of severe nausea and appetite loss did not develop recurrence. Normalization of TM (CEA, NCC-ST-439, or BCA225) manifested within 3 months of the interruption of the medication. Six patients who showed simultaneous increase in serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (sGPT) and TM (CEA or BCA225) in the initial 6 months did not develop recurrence. Three of 6 patients did not take any anti-cancer drugs. Correlation coefficiencies of sGPT with CEA in 4 patients were 0.467, 0.569, 0.738, and 0.910 and those of sGPT with BCA225 in 3 patients were 0.663, 0.826, and 0.840.


A false-positive increase in CEA, NCC-ST-439 or BCA225 might be caused by treatment with oral 5-FU or its derivatives. CEA or BCA225 elevates false-positively in patients with high sGPT levels.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.



Carcinoembryonic antigen








  1. 1)

    Pons-Anicet DMF, Krebs BP, Mira R,et al: Value of CA15:3 in the follow-up of breast cancer patients.Br J Cancer 55:567–569, 1987.

  2. 2)

    Colomer R, Ruibal A, Salvador L: Circulating tumor marker levels in advanced breast carcinoma correlate with the extent of metastatic disease.Cancer 64:1674–1681, 1989.

  3. 3)

    Safi F, Kohler I, Röttinger E,et al: The value of the tumor marker CA15-3 in diagnosing and monitoring breast cancer.Cancer 68:574–582, 1991.

  4. 4)

    Kausitz J, Hupka S, Makaiova I,et al: Significance of carcinoembryonic and tissue polypeptide antigen determination in the diagnosis of metastases in breast cancer.Neoplasma 33:471–476, 1986.

  5. 5)

    Stieber P, Nagel D, Ritzke C,et al: Significance of bone alkaline phosphates, CA 15-3 and CEA in the detection of bone metastases during the follow-up of patients suffering from breast carcinoma.Eur J Clin Chem Clin Biochem 30:809–814, 1992.

  6. 6)

    Vizcarra E, Lluch A, Cibrian R,et al: Value of CA 15.3 in breast cancer and comparison with CEA and TPA; A study of specificity in disease-free follow-up patients and sensitivity in patients at diagnosis of the first metastasis.Breast Cancer Res Treat 37:209–216, 1996.

  7. 7)

    Stevens DP, Mackay IR: Increased carcinoembryonic antigen in heavy cigarette smokers.Lancet 2:1238–1239, 1973.

  8. 8)

    Fletcher RH: Carcinoembryonic antigen.Ann Intern Med 104:66–73, 1986.

  9. 9)

    Narita T, Funahashi H, Satoh Y,et al: Serum and immunohistochemical studies of NCC-ST-439 in breast cancer.J Surg Oncol 54:5–8, 1993.

  10. 10)

    Iwase H, Kobayashi S, Itoh Y,et al: Evaluation of serum tumor markers in patients with advanced or recurrent breast cancer.Breast Cancer Res Treat 33:83–88, 1995.

  11. 11)

    Paulick R, Caffier H: Elevated serum carcino-enbryonic antigen and prognosis of breast cancer patients postmastectomy.Cancer Detec Prev 11:311–317, 1988.

  12. 12)

    Bullen AW, Losowsky MS, Carter S,et al: Diagnostic usefulness of plasma carcinoembryonic antigen levels in acute and chronic liver disease.Gastroenterology 73:673–678, 1977.

  13. 13)

    Festi D, Morselli Labate AM, Roda A,et al: Diagnostic effectiveness of serum bile acids in liver diseases as evaluated by multivariate statistical methods.Hepatology 3:707–713, 1983.

  14. 14)

    Tyshler LB, Longton GM, Ellis GK,et al: False positive tumor markers; Elevation in patients with breast cancer on FAC-type chemotherapy and correlation with development of hand-foot syndrome.Int J Biol Markers 11:203–206, 1996.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Kazuhiko Asanuma or Yoshihisa Hama or Shinya Kobayashi or Kiyoshi Shingu or Shiro Yokoyama or Minoru Fujimori or Yoshio Kasuga or Jun Amano.

About this article

Cite this article

Asanuma, K., Hama, Y., Kobayashi, S. et al. Tumor marker levels elevate false-positively in postsurgical Breast Cancer patients with high sgpt levels or with receiving oral 5-FU or its derivatives. Breast Cancer 6, 181–186 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02967165

Download citation

Key words

  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • BCA225
  • CEA
  • NCC-ST-439