Preoperative carbohydrate antigen 19-9 is most predictive of malignancy in older jaundiced patients undergoing pancreatic resection

Mark Bloomston, Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, Kavitha Kosuri, Sarah M. Cowgill, W. Scott Melvin, E. Christopher Ellison, Peter Muscarella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Given the increased detection of occult pancreatic neoplasms with modern imaging modalities, it is often difficult to determine the risk of malignancy before curative pancreatectomy. We reviewed patients who underwent pancreatectomy to determine factors predictive of malignancy with particular attention to the serum marker carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9). METHODS: One hundred eighteen patients underwent radical pancreatectomy for malignant (n = 59) or benign (n = 59) pancreatic lesions. Demographic data, preoperative CA19-9 levels (normal, <37 U/mL), and follow-up were obtained from patient charts. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine univariate and multivariate predictors of malignancy. RESULTS: Significant multivariate predictors of malignancy were increased CA19-9, age older than 50 years, and preoperative jaundice. The sensitivity and specificity of increased preoperative CA19-9 alone were 71% and 83%, respectively. The combination of age older than 50 years and jaundice was a more accurate predictor than CA19-9 (sensitivity, 76%; specificity, 92%). Increased CA19-9 was highly specific (97%) for malignancy in older jaundiced patients or when the preoperative level was greater than 150 U/mL. CONCLUSIONS: Age and preoperative jaundice are more predictive of malignancy than CA19-9 alone unless levels are greater than 150 U/mL. Preoperative CA19-9 levels should be interpreted within the context of these other clinical factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-249
Number of pages4
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • CA19-9
  • Carbohydrate antigen
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Endocrinology


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