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CEA blood test
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CEA blood test

What does the CEA blood test mean.  My latest test shows the level at 3.1.  Is that cause for alarm?
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Hi.  CEA stands for carcinoembryonic antigen.  This is a substance usually found in increased amounts in the blood of people who have various types of cancer, such as those coming from the colon, stomach, lungs, breast and pancreas.  Elevated serum CEA is not specific for any one cancer type, and can also be seen in non-cancerous conditions like liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis and ulcerative colitis.  Heavy tobacco smoking can also increase CEA levels.

The proper use of CEA is to monitor for recurrence or response to treatment in patients with a previously known tumor (confirmed by other tests). A level of 5.0 or greater would make the doctor suspect cancer recurrence or disease progression in spite of treatment.  Your CEA level of 3.1 is normal.

CEA cannot be used to screen for tumors in healthy individuals without symptoms, because it is not a very specific or sensitive test ( there are a lot of false positive and false negative results).
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What would it mean if your a smoker and your tumor marker was 5.5?
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