The Value of Routine Serum Carcino-Embryonic Antigen Measurement and Computed Tomography in the Surveillance of Patients After Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Colorectal Cancer Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: This analysis aims to evaluate routine carcino-embryonic antigen (CEA) and computed tomography (CT) of thorax, abdomen, and pelvis as part of protocol-specified follow-up policy for colorectal cancer (CRC). PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with resected stage II and III CRC were randomly assigned to bolus fluorouracil/leucovorin or protracted venous infusion fluorouracil. Following completion of chemotherapy, patients were seen in clinic at regular intervals for 5 years. CEA was measured at each clinic visit, and CT of thorax, abdomen, and pelvis was performed at 12 and 24 months after commencement of chemotherapy. RESULTS: Between 1993 and 1999, 530 patients were recruited. The median follow-up was 5.6 years. Disease relapses were observed in 154 patients. Relapses were detected by symptoms (n = 65), CEA (n = 45), CT (n = 49), and others (n = 9). Fourteen patients, whose relapses were detected by CT, had a concomitant elevation of CEA and were included in both groups. The CT-detected group had a better survival compared with the symptomatic group from the time of relapse (P =.0046). Thirty-three patients (21%) proceeded to potentially curative surgery for relapse and enjoyed a better survival than those who did not (P <.00001). For patients who underwent hepatic or pulmonary metastatic resection, 13 (26.5%) were in the CT group, eight (17.8%) in the CEA group, and only two (3.1%) in the symptomatic group (CT v symptomatic, P <.001; CEA v symptomatic, P =.015). CONCLUSION: Surveillance CT and CEA are valuable components of postoperative follow-up in stage II and III colorectal cancer.


  • Chau, Ian
  • Allen, Mark J
  • Cunningham, David
  • Norman, Andrew R
  • Brown, Gina
  • Ford, Hugo ER
  • Tebbutt, Niall
  • Tait, Diana
  • Hill, Mark
  • Ross, Paul J
  • Oates, Jacqui

publication date

  • April 15, 2004