The diagnostic value of CA 27-29, CA 15-3, mucin-like carcinoma antigen, carcinoembryonic antigen and CA 19-9 in breast and gastrointestinal malignancies

Paul S. Frenette, Michael P. Thirlwell, Marc Trudeau, D. M.P. Thomson, Lawrence Joseph, Joseph S. Shuster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


In the past decade, considerable interest has arisen for defining the role of various tumor markers in the diagnosis of cancer. This cross-sectional study evaluates four breast cancer markers (CA 27-29, CA 15-3, MCA and CEA) and two gastrointestinal (GI) markers (CA 19-9 and CEA) in 213 patients. Receiver operating curves (ROC) revealed a sensitivity for the 90% specificity cutoff for breast cancers compared to breast benign diseases of 70% for CA 27-29, 67.5% for CA 15-3, 52.5% for MCA and 40% for CEA. When GI tumors were compared to benign GI disease, the sensitivity for 90% specificity was 40.3% for CEA and 32.3% for CA 19-9. Comparison of breast cancer and GI malignancies with other malignancies leads to a marked shift of the ROC curve to the right and loss of specificity. Late stage for all breast and GI tumor markers was found to be a predictor of high serum antigen level (p < 0.001). The presence of liver metastases in breast cancer was associated with abnormal levels of CA 27-29 (p = 0.028). Pancreas adenocarcinomas had a higher CA 19-9 antigen level (p < 0.001) than other GI malignancies. CA 27-29 appears to be at least as sensitive and specific as CA 15-3 in patients with breast cancer. None of the above markers retain their specificity when compared with a control group consisting of other malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-254
Number of pages8
JournalTumor Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1994
Externally publishedYes



  • Breast cancer
  • CA 15-3
  • CA 19-9
  • CA 27-19
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen
  • Colon cancer
  • Mucin-like carcinoma antigen
  • Pancreas cancer
  • Tumor antigen
  • Tumor markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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