Comparison of CA 15-3 and CEA in diagnosis and monitoring of breast cancer

F. Safi, I. Kohler, E. Rottinger, P. Suhr, H. G. Beger

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44 Citations (Scopus)


In order to assess the utility of the tumor-associated antigen CA15-3 in the diagnosis of breast cancer, this new tumor marker was measured pre-operatively in 1342 patients. This group comprised 509 patients with malignant disease (134 with breast and 375 with other malignancies not involving the breast) and 833 patients with benign surgical diseases (95 patients with fibroadenoma of the breast, 738 with other benign diseases). The results were compared with those for carcino-embryonic antigen (CEA) in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Ca15-3 was above the normal limits of 25 U/ml in 31% of the patients with breast cancer, in 22% of patients with other malignancies, and in 9% of patients with benign diseases. CEA was elevated in 26% of patients with breast cancer (<3ng/ml). CA15-3 levels were above 50 U/ml in 13% of the breast cancer patients, in 6% of patients with other malignancies, and in 0.2% of the patients with benign diseases. There was a good correlation between CA15-3 level and tumorstage in breast cancer . CA15-3 serum levels were over 50 U/ml in respectively 0%, 2%, 13%, and 73% of the patients with stages I, II, III, and IV. CA15-3 and CEA were also determined in 671 patients who had received initial curative surgery of breast cancer, and who regularly attended our follow-up clinic. CA15-3 was found to be more sensitive than CEA in detecting recurrences of breast cancer. In the post-care period, carcinoma recurred in 205 patients. Of these 73% had CA15-3 concentrations above 25 U/ml, whereas only 50% had CEA values above 3ng/ml (p<0.0001). Although neither CA15-3 nor CEA are sensitive enough for the screening and diagnosis of early breast cancer, CA15-3 is superior to CEA in the detection of breast cancer metastases. (Int j Biol Markers, 1989; 4: 207-14)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Markers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research


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