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Prognostic Significance of Preoperative and Postoperative Evaluation of Combined Tumor Markers for Patients With Colon Cancer.

BACKGROUND: The combined value of the tumor markers carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) in patients with colon cancer (CC) is unclear. This study aimed to investigate the role of composite tumor markers in the prognosis of CC.

METHODS: Patients who underwent curative resection of colon adenocarcinoma were enrolled. The tumor marker status before and after the operation was used to divide the patients into groups according to the number of tumor markers with abnormal expression, and recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) of different groups were compared. The impact of changes in composite tumor markers in the perioperative period on outcomes was further explored.

RESULTS: Ultimately, 531 patients were enrolled in the study. As the number of preoperative and postoperative elevated tumor markers increased, both RFS and OS rates became lower (both P<0.05). Further analysis revealed that the number of elevated tumor markers after resection can significantly affect the outcomes (both P<0.05). In patients with abnormal preoperative tumor markers, normalization of markers after surgery was a protective factor for prognosis (both P<0.05), and patients with postoperative elevated levels of both tumor markers had a 5.5-fold and 6-fold increase in the risk of recurrence and death. In addition, patients with elevated markers after surgery had a high risk of recurrence within 5 years after colectomy.

CONCLUSIONS: Postoperative tumor markers had a better ability to differentiate postoperative outcomes in patients with CC than preoperative tumor markers. Patients whose tumor markers normalized after surgery had a better prognosis.

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