One major therapeutic failure of pancreatic adenocarcinoma treatment is metastasis to the liver. To screen patients with high risk for such hematogenous dissemination, we previously developed a very sensitive system to detect carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in blood. For a more practical application, we improved this system by making it quantitative and capable of analyzing both preoperative peripheral blood and intraoperative portal blood for the presence of CEA mRNA. CEA mRNA was not detected in the peripheral venous blood of any of the three patients examined, but it was identified in the portal blood without fail. In addition, the quantities of CEA mRNA identified in the portal blood before and after pancreatectomy were different. This study suggests that analysis of the portal blood seems to be important for the precise evaluation of hematogenous dissemination and of the pathophysiology of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

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