Presence of elevated carcinoembryonic antigen on absorbent disks applied to nipple area of breast carcinoma patients

Shuhei Imayama, Masaki Mori, Hiroaki Ueo, Shigeru Nanbara, Yosuke Adachi, Koshi Mimori, Yuji Shimozono, Yoshiaki Hori, Keizo Sugimachi

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9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is used as a serum marker to detect and monitor the status of various kinds of malignant tumors. To determine whether CEA might be detected in secretions collected topically from around the nipple area, and whether its secretion might differ in a cancerous versus a noncancerous breast, we developed a simple method for collecting and measuring CEA, using a small cellulose membrane disk and an enzyme immunoassay. METHODS. We measured the amount of CEA excreted from the nipple area of 22 healthy control women and 32 women with unilateral breast carcinoma confirmed histologically. Secretions were collected from the nipple area by affixing a small (20 mm diameter) absorbent disk made of nitrocellulose membrane backed with filter paper to that area for 24 hours. Substances absorbed by the membrane were then subjected to an immunoassay for CEA using anti-CEA antibodies. RESULTS. In the 22 healthy subjects, a small amount of CEA (0.6 ± 0.9 units) was secreted from each nipple, which was equally low regardless of the phase of the menstrual cycle. In contrast, 30 of the 32 women with breast carcinoma secreted significantly greater amounts of CEA from the cancerous (16.1 ± 8.2) than the noncancerous (2.0 ± 2.2) breast. Such a difference (14.1 ± 8.0) in CEA excretion was not observed in the healthy controls (0 ± 0). CONCLUSIONS. These findings suggest that such disks may provide a simple and noninvasive method of collecting trace molecules, including CEA, in skin secretions around the nipple to evaluate functional disorders of the mammary glands, particularly breast carcinoma. Additional studies are indicated in larger groups of women with various stages of breast carcinoma as well as with benign breast diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1234
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 15 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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