Serum carcinoembryonic antigen measurement is used to monitor colorectal cancer and certain other cancers such as medullary thyroid cancer and to evaluate the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) is a glycoprotein normally produced by the fetus and secreted by the cells of the gastrointestinal tract. In adults, it is normally found at very low levels. However, the carcinoembryonic antigen tends to increase in cases of malignancies. It is mainly non-specific and therefore not used alone in the diagnosis of cancer. This test has been found to be effective in the early detection of colorectal cancer, with CEA levels rising several months before the clinical onset of symptoms. Patients with smaller tumors that are in the initial stages have low or even normal CEA levels, whereas patients with advanced or metastatic cancers may have higher CEA levels. Measuring CEA levels may also be useful in monitoring the patient's response to cancer treatment as well as in monitoring patients for possible relapses of cancer.
Smoking raises carcinoembryonic antigen levels.
Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
- Increase: Acute pancreatitis, acute renal failure, bacterial pneumonia, breast cancer, cholecystitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cirrhosis, colon cancer, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, hypothyroidism, leukemia, lung cancer, neuroblastoma, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, peptic ulcer, pulmonary emphysema, radiation therapy, smoking, ulcerative colitis.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.