Incorporation of CEA Improves Risk Stratification in Stage II Colon Cancer

Blake A. Spindler, John R. Bergquist, Cornelius A. Thiels, Elizabeth B. Habermann, Scott R. Kelley, David W. Larson, Kellie L. Mathis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


High-risk features are used to direct adjuvant therapy for stage II colon cancer. Currently, high-risk features are identified postoperatively, limiting preoperative risk stratification. We hypothesized carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) can improve preoperative risk stratification for stage II colon cancer. The National Cancer Database (NCDB 2004–2009) was reviewed for stage II colon adenocarcinoma patients undergoing curative intent resection. A novel risk stratification including both traditional high-risk features (T4 lesion, <12 lymph nodes sampled, and poor differentiation) and elevated CEA was developed. Unadjusted Kaplan-Meier and adjusted Cox proportional hazards analyzed overall survival. Concordance Probability Estimates (CPE) assessed discrimination. Seventy-four thousand nine hundred forty-five patients were identified; 40,844 (54.5%) had CEA levels reported and were included. Chemotherapy administration was similar between normal and elevated CEA groups (23.8 vs. 25.1%, p = 0.003). Compared to patients with CEA elevation, 5-year overall survival in patients with normal CEA was improved (74.5 vs. 63.4%, p < 0.001). Restratification incorporating CEA resulted in reclassification of 6912 patients (16.9%) from average to high risk. CPE increased for novel risk stratification (0.634 vs. 0.612, SE = 0.005). The routinely available CEA test improved risk stratification for stage II colon cancer. CEA not only may improve staging of colon cancer but may also help guide additional therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-777
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • CEA
  • Colon cancer
  • Risk stratification
  • Staging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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