BACKGROUND - Early diagnosis and management of peritoneal metastases from colorectal cancer patients are difficult clinical challenges. The aims of this study were to evaluate the clinical significance of tumor markers and cytology in peritoneal effusions (PE) and peritoneal irrigation fluid (PI) and to determine their value as prognostic indicators in this disease.
METHODS - Two hundred thirty-four consecutive patients who underwent abdominal surgery for colorectal cancer from January 2006 to December 2007 were included, and tumor markers and cytology in PE and PI were analyzed prospectively.
RESULTS - The incidence of free cancer cells retrieved from peritoneal samples was 7.9%. Cytology was positive in 40.0% by Papanicolaou and Giemsa staining, 73.3% by hematoxylin and eosin staining of cell blocks, and 66.7% by carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and calretinin immunohistochemistry. Multivariate analysis revealed that peritoneal CEA and cancer antigen (CA) 19-9 in PI were correlated with peritoneal metastasis and cytology. Level of peritoneal fluid CEA was statistically significantly correlated with recurrence and peritoneal metastatic recurrence in patients with negative peritoneal cytology. Cytology, peritoneal CEA, and peritoneal CA 19-9 showed correlations with cancer-free survival and overall survival.
CONCLUSIONS - These correlations demonstrate the importance of continuous follow-up of peritoneal metastasis if there is positive cytology or an increase in CEA and CA 19-9 in peritoneal fluid.