Structure, Function and Expression of the CEA Gene Family: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Implications
During the search for biochemical differences between tumorous and corresponding normal tissues a quarter of a century ago, the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was found in colonic tumors, but not in normal colonic mucosa (Gold and Freedman 1965; von Kleist and Burtin 1966). With the development of more sensitive analytical methods, CEA and most other “tumor-specific” markers were also detected in normal tissues or in sera of individuals without tumors (for review see Shively and Beatty 1985). Despite this fact, CEA is widely used for the monitoring of tumor patients for recurrence of malignant disease after surgery (Fantini and DeCosse 1990). A continuous rise in the CEA concentration in serum, detected by serial determinations, is an indicator of tumor regrowth or metastasis in patients with adenocarcinomas of the colon, rectum, breast, lung and pancreas. Since an increase of the CEA concentration is often observed before other clinical symptoms are obvious, early therapeutic measures can be taken (e.g., “second-look” surgery in patients with colorectal tumors (Fantini and DeCosse 1990)). However, the diagnostic value of CEA, e.g., for early detection of primary tumors by routine screening, is limited due to the low sensitivity and specificity of CEA measurements. Therefore, in general, only patients with advanced malignant disease show increased preoperative CEA serum concentrations.
KeywordsCarcinoembryonic Antigen Immunoglobulin Supergene Family Mucinous Ovarian Carcinoma Calcium Dependent Cell Adhesion Molecule Early Therapeutic Measure
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