Implications of CA19-9 elevation for survival, staging, and treatment sequencing in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: A national cohort analysis

John R. Bergquist, Tommy Ivanics, Curtis Storlie, Ryan T. Groeschl, May C. Tee, Elizabeth B Habermann, Rory L. Smoot, Michael L. Kendrick, Michael B. Farnell, Lewis Rowland Roberts, Gregory James Gores, David M. Nagorney, Mark Truty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Background: Optimal management of patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICCA) and elevated CA19-9 remains undefined. We hypothesized CA19-9 elevation above normal indicates aggressive biology and that inclusion of CA19-9 would improve staging discrimination. Methods: The National Cancer Data Base (NCDB-2010-2012) was reviewed for patients with ICCA and reported CA19-9. Patients were stratified by CA19-9 above/below normal reference range. Unadjusted Kaplan–Meier and adjusted Cox-proportional-hazards analysis of overall survival (OS) were performed. Results: A total of 2,816 patients were included: 938 (33.3%) normal; 1,878 (66.7%) elevated CA19-9 levels. Demographic/pathologic and chemotherapy/radiation were similar between groups, but patients with elevated CA19-9 had more nodal metastases and less likely to undergo resection. Among elevated-CA19-9 patients, stage-specific survival was decreased in all stages. Resected patients with CA19-9 elevation had similar peri-operative outcomes but decreased long-term survival. In adjusted analysis, CA19-9 elevation independently predicted increased mortality with impact similar to node-positivity, positive-margin resection, and non-receipt of chemotherapy. Proposed staging system including CA19-9 improved survival discrimination over AJCC 7th edition. Conclusion: Elevated CA19-9 is an independent risk factor for mortality in ICCA similar in impact to nodal metastases and positive resection margins. Inclusion of CA19-9 in a proposed staging system increases discrimination. Multi-disciplinary therapy should be considered in patients with ICCA and CA19-9 elevation. J. Surg. Oncol. 2016;114:475–482.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-482
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 15 2016



  • biologic resectability
  • biomarker
  • CA19-9
  • cholangiocarcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology

Cite this