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A Journal on Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Dietetics

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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2007 December;53(4):305-9


language: English

Meaning of elevated CA 19-9 serum levels in chronic hepatitis and HCV-related cirrhosis

Bertino G. 1, Ardiri A. M. 1, Boemi P. 1, Bruno C. M. 1, Valenti M. 1, Mazzarino M. C. 2, Consolo M. 1, Calvagno G. S. 1, Pulvirenti D. 3, Neri S. 3

1 Department of Internal Medicine and Systemic Diseases,St. Marta Hospital University of Catania, Catania, Italy 2 Biomedical Sciences and General Pathology Institute University of Catania, Catania, Italy 3 Policlinico Universitario Gaspare Rodolico Catania, Italy


Aim. Carbohydrate 19-9 antigen (CA 19-9) has been used in the diagnosis and follow-up of gastrointestinal tumors. However, a remarkable reduction of specificity has been described in subjects with chronic diseases. Elevated CA 19-9 serum levels have been described in non neoplastic liver diseases, such as hepatic cirrhosis, where they correlate with the fibrosis grade and the disease severity. The aim of the study is to evaluate CA 19-9 levels in chronic hepatitis patients (CH) and hepatic cirrhosis patients, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)-correlated. Our goal was to establish whether elevated CA 19-9 levels can be considered a non casual event in chronic liver disease and whether a correlation can be found between CA 19-9 levels and the severity of the disease.
Methods. 116 patients have been recruited (76 m, 40 f, average 54 years); 56 patients were affected by CH and 60 by hepatic cirrhosis (Child A). All patients were HCV+, genotype 1b. Patients positive to CA 19-9 high levels were subjected to abdominal echography, EGDS, colonscopy, abdominal CT.
Results. Fifty two percent presented high levels of CA 19-9. None was affected by intestinal or pancreatic neoplasia, or colestatic icterus. CA 19-9 levels were elevated in 46% of patients with chronic hepatitis, and in 54% in patients with hepatic cirrhosis. Furthermore, CA 19-9 levels in hepatic cirrhosis compared to CA 19-9 levels in chronic hepatitis was statistically significant (P>0.007).
Conclusion. Increased serum levels of CA 19-9 are frequent in chronic viral hepatitis; this often does not indicate a contemporary neoplastic disease and correlates in a statistically significant way (P>0.007) with the severity of the disease.

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