Carcinoembryonic antigen level in the pancreatic juice is effective in malignancy diagnosis and prediction of future malignant transformation of intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas.
BACKGROUND : The present study aimed to determine the ability of diagnosing malignancy and predicting malignant transformation in patients with IPMN using carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level in the pancreatic juice. METHODS : We enrolled patients with IPMN who underwent endoscopic retrograde pancreatography (ERP) between 2002 and 2018. We examined the ability of diagnosing malignancy in 63 patients who underwent surgery (surgical group). Furthermore, we examined the value of predicting malignant transformation in 52 patients who underwent follow-up for over 1 year after ERP (follow-up group). RESULTS : In the surgical group, the overall sensitivity and specificity of CEA level (≥ 97 ng/ml) in the pancreatic juice for diagnosing malignancy were 45% and 100%, respectively. The specificity was excellent for all IPMN types; however, the sensitivity was highest in main duct type, followed by mixed type and branch duct type. In the follow-up group, malignant transformation was observed in four patients (7.7%) during the follow-up, and the median time until malignant transformation was 58 months. High CEA level in the pancreatic juice demonstrated a statistically significant difference in multivariate analysis and was found to be an independent predictor of malignant transformation (hazard ratio 17; P = 0.02). The cumulative malignant transformation rate was significantly higher in the high CEA group than that in the low CEA group (5-year cumulative malignant transformation rates, 69% vs. 0%, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS : Carcinoembryonic antigen level in the pancreatic juice is useful not only in diagnosing malignancy but also in predicting future malignant transformations in IPMN patients receiving follow-up.