Carcinoembryonic Antigen

Home Facing Pancreatic Cancer Diagnosis Carcinoembryonic Antigen

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The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test is a blood test that measures the level of CEA protein in the blood. However, the CEA protein is present in the developing embryo, but disappears from the blood by birth and normally remains at undetectable levels throughout adulthood.  When CEA does appear in the blood of an adult, it may indicate presence of a cancer, including pancreatic cancer.

However, the test is not used to diagnose pancreatic cancer because the CEA protein is not produced by all pancreatic tumors.  Other tumors, such as colon cancer, may also cause a rise in CEA.  In addition, other factors, such as smoking, can increase CEA concentration in the blood even when no cancer is present.  Similar to CA 19-9, CEA cannot be used as a diagnostic or screening test for pancreatic cancer.  Measuring blood CEA levels is most effective to monitor if an existing pancreatic tumor is responding to treatment.  If a pancreatic tumor produces the CEA protein and surgery is performed to remove the tumor, CEA levels in the blood should return to normal.

 

Information provided by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Inc. (“PanCAN”) is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or other health care services. PanCAN may provide information to you about physicians, products, services, clinical trials or treatments related to pancreatic cancer, but PanCAN does not recommend nor endorse any particular health care resource. In addition, please note that any personal information you provide to PanCAN’s associates during telephone and/or email communications may be stored and used to help PanCAN achieve its mission of assisting patients with, and finding cures and treatments for, pancreatic cancer. Stored constituent information may be used to inform PanCAN programs and activities. Information also may be provided in aggregate or limited formats to third parties to guide future pancreatic cancer research and treatment efforts. PanCAN will not provide personal directly identifying information (such as your name or contact information) to such third parties without your prior written consent unless required or permitted by law to do so.

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