New insights into the role of age and carcinoembryonic antigen in the prognosis of colorectal cancer

P. G. Gobbi, F. Valentino, E. Berardi, C. Tronconi, S. Brugnatelli, O. Luinetti, R. Moratti, G. R. Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to verify through relative survival (an estimate of cancer-specific survival) the true prognostic factors of colorectal cancer. The study involved 506 patients who underwent locally radical resection. All the clinical, histological and laboratory parameters were prognostically analysed for both overall and relative survival. This latter was calculated from the expected survival of the general population with identical age, sex and calendar years of observation. Univariate and multivariate analyses were applied to the proportional hazards model. Liver metastases, age, lymph node involvement and depth of bowel wall involvement were independent prognosticators of both overall and relative survival, whereas carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was predictive only of relative survival. Increasing age was unfavourably related to overall survival, but mildly protective with regard to relative survival. Three out of the five prognostic factors identified are the cornerstones of the current staging systems, and were confirmed as adequate by the analysis of relative survival. The results regarding age explain the conflicting findings so far obtained from studies considering overall survival only and advise against the adoption of absolute age limits in therapeutic protocols. Moreover, the prechemotherapy CEA level showed a high clinical value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-334
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 29 2008


  • Age
  • CEA
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Relative survival
  • Staging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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