Also known as Carcinoembryonic Antigen Monoclonal Antibody Blood
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What is this test?

This test is used to find out the Carcinoembryonic Antigen CEA levels in the blood.

What is Carcinoembryonic Antigen CEA?

Carcinoembryonic antigen is a protein generally produced in the gastrointestinal tissue during fetal development. But, its production is stopped before the birth of a child. So, CEA levels in the blood of healthy adults are very low.

A tumor marker is a substance produced by a body in the presence of cancer or cancer itself can make tumor markers. Some of the tumor markers are specific to one cancer and some are seen in different types of cancers. The CEA can be used as tumor markers for colon, pancreatic, lung, gastric and breast cancers.

CEA is a set of highly related glycoproteins that are involved in the cell adhesion. Its molecular weight is 20,000. CEA attaches to the plasma membrane of tumor cells and gets released into the blood.

Why this test is performed?

The doctor may ask to get this test done if an individual is suffering from symptoms like blood discharge from the nipples, new, unusual growth or change in the existing moles, chest pain, wheezing (whistle sound when breathing), weight loss, severe pain in the abdomen, blood loss, constipation (difficulty in emptying bowel), narrow stools (thin stools), blood in the stools, indigestion (recurrent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen), loss of appetite. These are the common symptoms of breast, lung, colon, ovarian and other types of cancers. This test is also used by physicians to find out the effectiveness of the treatment. If a patient is on the treatment for cancer, then the doctor prefers this test to evaluate and to check the CEA levels in the body. This helps the doctor to rule out the patient disease condition.

When a diagnosed patient with cancer visits a hospital for a general check-up, the doctor may ask to undergo CEA test. This test is done to find whether an individual is having cancer or not. It also helps the physician to find out, whether the cancer treatment is working or not. In some cases, this test helps the physician to find out if cancer has recurred even after the treatment. Generally, doctors will order this test along with others to finalize the diagnosis and to check which treatment is suitable for a specific type of cancer.


Drugs like aspirin, vitamins may change the levels of CEA in the blood. So, inform your doctor prior to the test if you are on these medications. CEA levels may be abnormal in smokers and it doesn't mean to have or develop cancer.

Also known as CEA test, Serum CEA test, Carcinoembryonic Antigen, Serum CEA.

Test Preparation

Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your CEA. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for CEA.

There are no specific preparations required for the CEA test.

Understanding your test results

If the test results are in normal range then the individual is healthy and normal. No need for medical intervention.

In the case of increased CEA levels in the blood than the normal range then it may be due to the presence of colorectal cancer (cancer in lower digestive tract of colon or rectum), lung cancer, breast, pancreatic, stomach, liver, ovarian, bladder, kidney, head and neck, thyroid and cervical cancers. Some other conditions like lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system) may also increase the levels of CEA in blood. Non-cancerous conditions like a peptic ulcer (sore on the lining of the esophagus, small intestine or stomach), emphysema (tissues involved in the exchange of gases are destroyed or impaired), rectal polyps (small clump of cells on the lining of colon or rectum), benign breast cancer (tumor in breast that does not invade nearby tissues), ulcerative colitis (chronic inflammation in the digestive tract), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) may also elevate the CEA blood levels.

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