Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry

Diagnostic efficacy of CA 15-3 and CEA in the early detection of metastatic breast cancer-A retrospective analysis of kinetics on 743 breast cancer patients.

PMID 26160053


We investigated the diagnostic capacity of CEA and CA 15-3 kinetics for the early detection of metastatic disease in comparison to fixed cut off values. In a retrospective analysis, a total of 743 patients with early breast cancer and available baseline values of CEA and CA 15-3 were included. A reproducible increase of 100% of single or combined markers was considered as a strong indicator of metastatic disease. 187 patients developed metastatic disease and 556 remained disease-free. On the basis of tumor marker kinetics, we reached a specificity of >98% for both biomarkers and a sensitivity of 40.6% for CEA alone, 55.6% for CA 15-3 alone and 66.3% for the combination of both markers. Using fixed cut-off values (CEA: 4ng/mL, CA 15-3: 30U/mL) we ended up with a specificity of 86.3% and a sensitivity of 70.6% for the combination of CEA and CA 15-3. Using higher cut-off values (CEA: 6ng/mL, CA 15-3: 60U/mL) we reached a specificity of 96.9% and a sensitivity of 49.7% for the combination. We conclude that the interpretation of these markers in follow-up using individual baseline values and kinetics leads to a significant superior profile of specificity and sensitivity.