Prognostic Value of Postoperative Blood Levels of Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) in Breast Cancer
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was originally described by GOLD in 1965. Initial studies suggested that this assay might provide a method for identifying patients with colon cancer. However, the early promise of specificity for colon cancer has not been confirmed by the antigen and antibody preparations currently available and, in fact, abnormally elevated levels of CEA have been found in a wide variety of tumours, other non-malignant diseases, and after blood transfusion. More refined antigen and antibody preparations hold promise of greater specificity .
With the relatively recent discovery that adjuvant chemotherapy and hormone therapy can reduce recurrence rates in premenopausal breast cancer patients, it becomes important to have means of selecting patients at high risk of recurrence. Traditionally, histological nodal status has served this function. Other tests of prognosis are required when the axillary nodes are negative. Furthermore, in patients with metastatic disease in particular, when one is comparing different treatment regimens, it is important to have means of assuring that different groups of patients are comparable.
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