Purpose: We evaluate whether the change of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level before and after preoperative chemoradiotherapy (CRT) in rectal cancer affects tumor response and recurrence or not. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 1447 rectal cancer patients who underwent preoperative CRT followed by curative surgery. All patients received preoperative radiotherapy of 50.4 Gy in 28 fractions with 5-fluorouracil or capecitabine. Total mesorectal excision was performed 4 to 8 weeks after preoperative CRT. CEA levels were checked before and after CRT. Clinical and pathologic factors were analyzed for tumor response and recurrence. Results: Post-CRT CEA level (cutoff value, 2.5 ng/mL) was not a significant factor for tumor response on the multivariate analysis (p = 0.095). Patients were categorized according to the pre- and post-CRT CEA level (group A: pre-CRT CEA ≤5 ng/mL; group B: pre-CRT CEA >5 ng/mL and post-CRT CEA ≤2.5 ng/mL; group C: pre-CRT CEA >5 ng/mL and post-CRT CEA >2.5 ng/mL). The relapse-free survival (RFS) at 5 years was significantly higher in group A than in groups B and C (82.6 vs. 73.7 % vs. 72.2 %, p < 0.001). The overall survival (OS) at 5 years was significantly higher in group A than in groups B and C (90.1 vs. 84.4 % vs. 83.4 %, p < 0.001). However, there is no significant difference for RFS and OS between groups B and C (all, p > 0.05). Conclusions: Decline of elevated CEA level (>5 ng/mL) during preoperative chemoradiotherapy has no significant effect on tumor response and recurrence in rectal cancer.
- Rectal cancer