CEA (Carcinoembryonic Antigen) Test

Cea test is a kind of laboratory test that measures the carcinoembryonic antigen level in the blood. CEA ( carcinoembryonic antigen) is a kind of protein and its level increases in some kind of cancers; especially in large intestine (colon and rectal) cancer. In fact CEA is normally produced during the fetus development and its production ends before birth. Healthy adults have no CEA or very low amounts of CEA in their blood. CEA is also used as a tumor marker but its level may increase in some other dieases or some conditions like smoking. For this reason CEA test is not a general tumor screening test, it is preferred to monitor cancer treatment like other tumor markers.

How the CEA test is performed ?

CEA test is usually done in a blood sample that is collected from your arm veins. Blood collection is a short procedure that may take at most 1-2 minutes and you may feel a little pain for a few seconds during the process. A tube of blood would be enough for CEA test. Additionally body fluids like; peritoneal fluid,pleural effusion, cerebrospinal fluid may be used for CEA test.

Preparation for CEA test

You don’t need any special preparations for CEA test. Smoking may affect your test result please inform your doctor if you are smoking

Why the CEA test is done? Purpose of CEA test

  • Monitoring the cancer treatment especially large intestine cancer and also thyroid, lung, breast, liver,ovarian,pancreas, stomach cancers
  • Evaluating the  surgical operation’s success by comparing CEA levels before and after surgery
  • Monitoring the chemotherapy treatment success
  • Determining if the cancer has relapsed
  • Checking the body fluids to determine if the cancer has spreaded to body cavities

How long it takes to get normal CEA results?

If the cancer treatment is successful CEA value decreases to normal level within 6 weeks

CEA Test normal results

This normal value may change according to the laboratory, test method and the analyser that is used

  • Normal CEA result: 0-2,5 mcg/mL
  • Normal CEA result for smokers: 0-5 mcg/mL

What high CEA values mean ?

Every high CEA result doesn’t mean that you are cancer, there can be an another reason that cause high CEA value

The presence of large intestine, lung, breast, liver, pancreas, stomach, ovarian cancers

Cancer treatment is unsuccessfulcea

Cancer may be relapsed after treatment

There can be a problem other than cancer;

Inflammatory bowel disease


Stomach ulcer



Gallbladder inflammation

Chronic smoking



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