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February 2, 1994

CEA for Monitoring Colon Cancer

Author Affiliations

Santa Barbara, Calif

JAMA. 1994;271(5):346. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510290027023

To the Editor.  —In a recent article Moertel et al1 question the value of the CEA determination for monitoring patients who had undergone resection for colorectal cancer. They concluded that cancer cures attributable to CEA monitoring are infrequent and suggest that this small gain does not justify the cost and the patient's physical and emotional stress associated with the testing.Such statements raise intriguing questions concerning the allocation of health care dollars for these and other more aggressive medical procedures, which may at least produce only a modest increased survival for a limited number of patients. Although society can justly question the priorities for allocating financial resources, we would expect that an individual who underwent resection for colorectal cancer would take the view that the "small gain" is worth whatever the expense and emotional distress.We agree that cancer cures attributable to CEA monitoring are not frequent. Certainly, this

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