New observations on the utility of CA19-9 as a biomarker in Lewis negative patients with pancreatic cancer

Guopei Luo, Zhiyao Fan, He Cheng, Kaizhou Jin, Meng Guo, Yu Lu, Chao Yang, Kun Fan, Qiuyi Huang, Jiang Long, Liang Liu, Jin Xu, Renquan Lu, Quanxing Ni, Andrew L Warshaw, Chen Liu, Xianjun Yu
Pancreatology: Official Journal of the International Association of Pancreatology (IAP) ... [et Al.] 2018 August 9

BACKGROUND: Carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) is the best-validated biomarker for pancreatic cancer. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guideline asserts that "CA19-9 will be undetectable in Lewis antigen-negative individuals". However, reports of CA19-9 secretion and its significance in Lewis (-) patients with pancreatic cancer have been inconsistent. This study was to examine serum CA19-9 levels in patients with pancreatic cancer according to Lewis status.

METHODS: Patients with pancreatic cancer (1482 cases) were retrieved from a prospectively maintained database. Patients with benign pancreatic disease (210 cases) and normal subjects (315 cases) were used as controls. Lewis genotypes were examined by fucosyltransferase 3 (FUT3) sequencing.

RESULTS: In patients with pancreatic cancer, 8.4% of subjects were Lewis (-), but only 41.9% of Lewis (-) subjects had CA19-9 values ≤ 2 U/mL. CA19-9 was even elevated (>37 U/mL) in 27.4% of Lewis (-) patients. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for CA19-9 as a diagnostic biomarker was 0.842 in Lewis (-) patients with pancreatic cancer, which is closing to that of CA19-9 applied in all of patients with pancreatic cancer (0.898). Lewis (-) status was an independent prognostic factor for shorter survival in a multivariable analysis (hazard ratio (HR), 1.30, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.03-1.64; P = 0.028).

CONCLUSIONS: Not all Lewis (-) patients with pancreatic cancer are non-secretors of CA19-9. Contrary to general understanding, CA19-9 can retain its utility as a biomarker in these patients in spite of Lewis (-) genotype.

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