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A mucinous adenocarcinoma of the lip with elevated serum carcinoembryonic antigen levels: a case report

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Mucinous adenocarcinoma (MAC) rarely occurs in the salivary glands, especially in the labial gland. MACs arising from the salivary glands are characterized by an aggressive behavior due to high invasiveness and a high rate of regional lymph node metastasis.

Case presentation

Here, we report a case of MAC arising from the lower lip, shown to have elevated serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) levels by the medical checkup. The tumor showed aggressive behavior and serum CEA levels increased with repeated recurrence. CEA has been shown to have surprisingly diverse functions in cell adhesion, intracellular and intercellular signaling, and complex biological processes such as cancer progression, inflammation, angiogenesis, and metastasis. A MAC arising from the salivary glands may have a poor prognosis because CEA is highly expressed.


Generally, serum CEA levels have not been used as tumor markers for salivary gland malignancies; however, it may be useful for MAC arising from salivary glands. We recommend prospective research to determine whether serum CEA estimation is useful as a component of routine pre-treatment workup for MACs arising from the salivary glands.

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Correspondence to Takayuki Aoki.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Aoki, T., Kondo, Y., Karakida, K. et al. A mucinous adenocarcinoma of the lip with elevated serum carcinoembryonic antigen levels: a case report. Oral Maxillofac Surg 24, 127–132 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10006-019-00818-6

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  • Mucinous adenocarcinoma
  • Salivary gland
  • Lip
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen
  • Tumor marker