The level of carcinoembryonic antigen and the presence of mucin as predictors of cystic pancreatic mucinous neoplasia

Vanessa M. Shami, Vinay Sundaram, Edward B. Stelow, Mark Conaway, Christopher A. Moskaluk, Grace E. White, Reid B. Adams, Paul Yeaton, Michel Kahaleh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Characterization of pancreatic cysts using endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration includes cytological interpretation and chemical analysis. We prospectively analyzed the contribution of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and cytological identification of extracellular mucin as predictors of mucinous neoplasia and malignancy. METHODS: From January 2003 to October 2005, all patients referred to the University of Virginia with cystic lesions of the pancreas underwent endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration with cytological evaluation and CEA level analysis. Data were collected prospectively and confirmed by resection or tissue biopsy. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed on the following variables with regard to their ability to predict mucinous neoplasia: age (<55 or >55 years), sex, CEA level (<300 or >300 ng/mL), and cytological appreciation of extracellular mucin (positive or negative). P values less than 0.05 were considered significant. RESULTS: A total of 43 patients were included in this study. There were 19 men and 24 women with a mean age of 63 ± 14 years. The only complication was pancreatitis secondary to cyst leak in one patient. Multivariate analysis confirmed CEA level greater than 300 ng/mL (P= 0.007) and the identification of mucin (P < 0.001) as significant predictors. CONCLUSIONS: With pancreatic cyst fluid analysis, the strongest predictor of mucinous neoplasia is the presence of identifiable mucin, followed by a CEA level greater than 300 ng/mL. The workup of cystic lesions of the pancreas should include chemical analysis for the CEA level and cytological examination with particular attention to extracellular mucin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-469
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • CEA
  • Cystic pancreatic mucinous neoplasia
  • Mucin
  • Pancreatic cyst


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