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Objective: Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is a major public health concern, often complicated by hepatic metastasis. Despite the widespread use of serum Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) for postoperative monitoring, early detection of hepatic metastasis remains elusive. This study aims to evaluate the prognostic significance of CEA levels in both peripheral blood and gallbladder bile for predicting hepatic metastasis in CRC patients, and to explore its potential utility for personalized treatment regimens.
Materials and Methods: A prospective randomized study was conducted over three years, enrolling 31 participants, 21 of whom underwent curative operations for CRC. Preoperative and postoperative CEA levels were assessed with rigorous diagnostic imaging and histological examinations. Patients were stratified into groups based on liver metastasis, postoperative chemotherapy, and CEA levels in both blood and bile.
Results: A statistically significant difference was found in biliary CEA levels between patients with (mean = 129.22 ng/ml) and without intraoperative liver metastasis (mean = 33.16 ng/ml), p-value = 0.01. Serum and biliary CEA levels were robustly correlated, p > 0.05. Biliary CEA values differed significantly across Duke's stages, with particular significance between the control group and Duke's stage D (p < 0.001). Among patients without intraoperative liver metastasis but with biliary CEA >10 ng/ml, 80% developed liver metastasis postoperatively despite undergoing chemotherapy.
Conclusion: This research highlights the pivotal role of biliary CEA levels in diagnosing latent hepatic metastases in colorectal cancer. Demonstrating superior sensitivity compared to traditional serum tests, biliary CEA presents a potential shift in early detection. Elevated levels suggest expanded therapeutic options, from timely hepatectomies to adopting radiofrequency ablation and anti-CEA monoclonal antibodies, enhancing the likelihood of better patient outcomes. Essentially, these findings enhance our understanding of colorectal cancer, emphasizing the importance of personalized care, early diagnosis, and customized treatments, thereby directing us toward better patient outcomes.
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