Background: Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9 are the most commonly used tumor markers in gastric cancer (GC). The purpose of this study was to dynamically monitor the preoperative and postoperative CEA and/or CA19-9 levels in GC patients to determine their value in efficacy monitoring and prognosis.
Methods: The preoperative and postoperative CEA and/or CA19-9 were measured in 397 GC patients and correlated to pathology and the overall survival (OS).
Results: We found the depth of invasion, lymph node metastasis, and pTNM stage were the most important factors affecting the elevated levels of CEA and CA19-9 in GC patients (all p < 0.001). There were significant differences between preoperative CEA or CA19-9 and postoperative values (p < 0.001). Multivariate analyses revealed that postoperative CEA and the presence of lymph node metastasis were independently associated with shorter OS (p = 0.041; p = 0.030).
Conclusions: Dynamic monitoring of CEA and CA19-9 before and after surgery can be used to determine tumor burden. Postoperative rather than preoperative tumor markers, especially postoperative CEA, are good indicators for judging the prognosis of GC patients.