Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is still the most widely used tumour marker for gastrointestinal cancer. CEA was originally thought to be a specific marker for colorectal cancer, but it turned out to be a non-specific marker for further studies. CEA levels can be elevated in breast, lung and liver cancers, among others, including medullary thyroid cancer. The authors report a case of a 73-year-old woman who had a right hemicolectomy for an ascending colon adenocarcinoma and showed a persistent elevation in the CEA marker during follow-up. After several imaging tests, recurrence of the colon cancer was not found, but the presence of thyroid nodules had been detected. The diagnosis of a medullary thyroid carcinoma was made after the finding of a high value of calcitonin. The patient had a total thyroidectomy with resection of the central and lateral lymph nodes.
- thyroid disease
- endocrine cancer
- screening (oncology)
- head and neck surgery
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Contributors AMa: performed initial colon surgery, patient follow-up, design of manuscript, research, manuscript revision and approval. AG and TA: analysis, revision and approval. AMi: director of general surgery department, revision and approval.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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