The CEA test measures the level of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in the blood. CEA is a protein normally found in the tissue of a developing baby in the womb. The blood level of this protein disappears or becomes very low after birth. In adults, an abnormal level of CEA may be a sign of cancer.
Smoking may increase CEA level.
The normal range is 0 to 2.5 micrograms per liter (mcg/L). In smokers, the normal range is 0 to 5 mcg/L.
A high CEA level in a person recently treated for certain cancers may mean the cancer has returned.A higher than normal level may be due to the following cancers:
- Colon,Rectum,Pancreas or Stomach cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Ovary cancer
- Some other cancers
Higher than normal CEA level alone cannot diagnose a new cancer. Further testing is needed.
An increased CEA level may also be due to:
- Liver and gallbladder problems
- Heavy smoking
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (such as ulcerative colitis or diverticulitis)
- Lung infection
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Stomach ulcer