Delayed radiation-induced inflammation accompanying a marked carbohydrate antigen 19-9 elevation in a patient with resected pancreatic cancer

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Although carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9 is a useful tumor marker for pancreatic cancer, it can also become elevated from a variety of benign and malignant conditions. Herein we describe an unusual presentation of elevated CA 19-9 in an asymptomatic patient who had previously undergone adjuvant chemotherapy and radiation therapy for resected early stage pancreatic cancer. The rise in CA 19-9 might be due to delayed radiation-induced inflammation related to previous intra-abdominal radiation therapy with or without radiation recall induced by gemcitabine. After treatment with corticosteroids the CA 19-9 level decreased to normal, and the patient has not developed any evidence of recurrent cancer to date.