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The Carcinogenic Embryonic Antigen (CEA) assay is used primarily to monitor the treatment and possible recurrence of colorectal carcinoma. CEA may also be used for breast, lung, pancreatic and gastric malignancies.

Non malignant elevations may be seen in benign polyps, colitis, cirrhosis, hepatitis, chronic lung disease, and smokers. Values >10-15 µg/L are rarely seen in benign conditions.

As with most tumour marker assays, it is the changing concentrations of CEA levels over a period of time that is used as a management aid. Where curative surgery is contemplated, pre-operative CEA levels may have prognostic significance. CEA is not recommended as a diagnostic screening test.

The CEA assay is a quantitative MEIA (microparticle enzyme immunoassay) procedure, using Abbott AxSYM instrumentation. Samples may be serum (preferred) or plasma.

Reference Range = 0-4µg/L             
Borderline = 4-10 µg/L

Interferences: human antimouse antibodies (HAMA).​

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