Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA)
The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test measures the amount of this Reference protein Opens New Window that may appear in the blood of some people who have certain kinds of cancers, especially large intestine (Reference colon and rectal Opens New Window) cancer. It may also be present in people with cancer of the Reference pancreas Opens New Window, breast, ovary, or lung.
Results are usually available in 1 to 3 days.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what’s normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Many conditions can change your CEA levels. Your doctor will discuss any significant abnormal results with you in relation to your symptoms and medical history.
Most cancers do not produce this protein, so your CEA may be normal even though you have cancer.
- Cancer of the colon, lung, pancreas, breast, or ovary may be present.
- Cancer may not be responding to treatment.
- Cancer may have returned after treatment. A steadily rising CEA may be the first sign that cancer has come back after treatment. Also, people with advanced cancer or cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic cancer) may have high CEA levels if their original cancer produced this protein before treatment.
- Another condition or disease is present, such as Reference cirrhosis Opens New Window, Reference hepatitis Opens New Window, Reference diverticulitis Opens New Window, Reference inflammatory bowel disease Opens New Window, Reference peptic ulcer Opens New Window disease, Reference chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Opens New Window, Reference inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) Opens New Window, or an obstructed bile duct.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference April 8, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology