The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic impact of the initial serum postoperative CA19-9 levels in patients with extrahepatic bile duct cancer.
Data of a total of 143 patients of extrahepatic bile duct cancer with elevated preoperative serum CA19-9 levels (>37 U/ml) who underwent surgery with curative intent were reviewed retrospectively. The patients were divided into the "Normalization group" and "Non-normalization group" (initial postoperative serum CA19-9 ≤37 and >37 U/ml, respectively), and the clinicopathological factors and survival outcomes in these groups were comparatively analyzed.
The cumulative 5-year overall survival (OS) rate and median survival time (MST) were 39.2 % and 42.9 months, respectively, in the Normalization group and 17.9 % and 24.0 months, respectively, in the Non-normalization group (P < 0.001). Presence of jaundice, a poorer histological differentiation grade (G3-4), lymph node metastasis, and initial postoperative serum CA19-9 level (>37 U/ml) were significant independent predictors of a poor prognosis on multivariate analysis.
Non-normalization of the serum CA19-9 level in the initial postoperative phase is a strong predictor of a poor prognosis and is a useful marker to identify patients who would need additional treatments and stricter follow-up.