Background

The impact of the preoperative carbohydrate antigen 125 (CA125) level on the survival of metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) patients undergoing primary tumor resection (PTR) remains uncertain. The aim of this study was to assess the prognostic value in overall survival (OS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS) between patients with and without an elevated preoperative CA125 level.

Methods

All metastatic CRC patients receiving PTR between 2007 and 2017 at the Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University (Guangzhou, China) were retrospectively included. OS and CSS rates were compared between patients with and without elevated preoperative CA125 levels.

Results

Among 326 patients examined, 46 (14.1%) exhibited elevated preoperative CA125 levels and the remaining 280 (85.9%) had normal preoperative CA125 levels. Patients with elevated preoperative CA125 levels had lower body mass index, lower preoperative albumin level, lower proportion of preoperative chemotherapy, higher carcinoembryonic antigen and carbohydrate antigen 19–9 (CA19–9) levels, poorer differentiation, and more malignant histopathological type than patients with normal preoperative CA125 levels. In addition, patients with elevated preoperative CA125 levels exhibited more advanced pathological T and N stages, more peritoneal metastasis, and more vessel invasion than patients with normal preoperative CA125 levels. Moreover, the primary tumor was more likely to be located at the colon rather than at the rectum in patients with elevated CA125 levels. Both OS and CSS rates in patients with elevated preoperative CA125 levels were significantly lower than those in patients with normal preoperative CA125 levels. Multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed that an elevated preoperative CA125 level was significantly associated with poor prognosis in metastatic CRC patients undergoing PTR. The hazard ratio (HR) in OS was 2.36 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.67–3.33, P < 0.001) and the HR in CSS was 2.50 (95% CI, 1.77–3.55, P < 0.001). The survival analysis stratified by peritoneal metastasis also demonstrated that patients with elevated preoperative CA125 levels had lower OS and CSS rates regardless of peritoneal metastasis.

Conclusion

Based on an analysis of metastatic CRC patients undergoing PTR, an elevated preoperative CA125 level was associated with poor prognosis, which should be taken into consideration in clinical practice.

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