Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA)
carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test measures the amount of this
protein that may appear in the blood of some people
who have certain kinds of cancers, especially large intestine (colon and rectal) cancer. It may also be present in people with cancer of the
pancreas, breast, ovary, or lung.
normally produced during the development of a
fetus. The production of CEA stops before birth, and
it usually is not present in the blood of healthy adults.
Why It Is Done
The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test
is used to:
- Find how widespread cancer is for some types of
the disease, especially colon cancer.
- Check the success of
treatment for colon cancer.
- CEA levels may be measured both before and
after surgery to evaluate both the success of the surgery and the person's
chances of recovery.
- CEA levels may be measured during treatment
with medicines to destroy cancer cells (chemotherapy).
This provides information about how well the treatment is working.
- Check to see if cancer has returned after
How To Prepare
You do not need to do anything before
you have this test.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you
have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what
the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
The health professional taking a sample
of your blood will:
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Put pressure to the site and then put on a
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
There is very little chance of a problem from
having blood drawn from a vein.
- You may get a small bruise at the site. You can
lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several
- In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the
blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be
used several times a day to treat this.
- Ongoing bleeding can be a
problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and
other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have
bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell
your doctor before your blood sample is taken.