High C-Reactive Protein Levels May Influence Prognosis

Sign in to receive recommendations (Learn more)

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein in the blood. CRP levels are measured with a simple blood test. CRP levels can be higher than normal if there is inflammation or infection in the body. Elevated CRP levels also have been linked to cancer and its aggressiveness.

A Danish study has found that women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer who had higher CRP levels were more likely to die from the cancer. The research was published in BMC Breast Cancer Research.

The Copenhagen Breast Cancer Study looked at 2,910 women diagnosed with early-stage or advanced-stage invasive breast cancer. CRP levels were measured when the women were first diagnosed. The women had surgery and other treatments and were followed for about 3 years after diagnosis. The researchers wanted to see if there was a link between CRP levels at diagnosis and how the women did after treatment.

During the 3 years of follow-up, 118 women had the cancer come back (recur) and 383 women died.

The results showed that the higher a woman's CRP level at diagnosis, the worse her prognosis was. The researchers figured out projected survival rates at 5 years for women in three groups of CRP levels.

Projected overall survival (being alive whether or not the cancer came back) at 5 years was:

  • 90% for women with CRP levels in the lowest third
  • 81% for women with CRP levels in the middle third
  • 74% for women with CRP levels in the highest third

Projected disease-free survival (being alive without the cancer coming back) at 5 years was:

  • 87% for women with CRP levels in the lowest third
  • 80% for women with CRP levels in the middle third
  • 74% for women with CRP levels in the highest third

Projected risk of dying from breast cancer by 5 years was:

  • 11% for women with CRP levels in the lowest third
  • 19% for women with CRP levels in the middle third
  • 20% for women with CRP levels in the highest third

The overall risk of the cancer coming back at 5 years was highest for women with CRP levels in the highest third.

The researchers aren't sure why elevated CRP levels seem to be linked to worse prognosis in women diagnosed with breast cancer. It could be that CRP levels are tied to factors that make a cancer more aggressive. Inflammation is believed to play a role in how some cancers behave, so it's possible that inflammation might be part of the link between elevated CRP levels and breast cancer prognosis.

Doctors don't routinely measure or use CRP levels when planning breast cancer treatment. This study suggests that CRP levels might help doctors know more about an individual woman's prognosis and guide treatment decisions.

Still, more research needs to be done to know exactly how CRP levels can help assess prognosis and plan breast cancer treatment.

Was this resource helpful?

Yes No
C3a
C3b
Evergreen-donate
Back to Top