Purpose: The purpose of this study was to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the impact of postoperative tumor marker (TM) normalization on survival after pancreatectomy for pancreatic carcinoma. We propose the concept of surgical RECIST based on residual tumor and TM status. Methods: A total of consecutive patients with pancreatic carcinoma underwent pancreatectomy between August 1, 1989, and August 1, 2008. Pre- and postoperative TM values were available for 194 patients. The relationship between TM status, survival, and other clinical and demographic data was determined with univariate log-rank tests and Cox proportional hazards analysis. Results: Postoperative TM levels remained elevated in 92 patients (47.4%; partial responders). TM levels normalized in 102 patients (52.6%; complete responders). Lymph node metastases, portal vein resection, absence of retroperitoneal clearance, residual tumor, preoperative high CA19-9, and surgical partial response were associated with decreased survival. Nodal stage (P = 0.0227) and surgical RECIST (P = 0.025) were significant predictors of survival. Partial responders had a significantly lower median survival time (P = 0.0008) and significantly higher frequency of hepatic metastasis (P = 0.0299). Conclusions: Postresection TM normalization is a strong prognostic factor for pancreatic cancer. The efficacy of pancreatic cancer surgery should be evaluated in the context of both local clearance and serum TM kinetics.
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