return to C index

return to index page

PTD - 198

Test Directory - Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)

Please note that for monitoring purposes results from Basildon and Southend are comparable, but results from other laboratories may differ due to methodological differences.



Clinical Indications

CEA is recommended for use only to monitor possible recurrence in some
patients following resection of colorectal cancer. It is not recommended as
a diagnostic test since it has poor specificity and low sensitivity for early stage G.I. carcinoma. CEA has been used extensively for monitoring tumours other than colorectal but is not recommended for this purpose and in many instances superior markers are now available.

Request Form

Combined Pathology Blood form (Yellow/Black)


On request, if specific criteria met.

Specific Criteria

Monitoring of therapy for colorectal, gastric, breast and bronchial carcinomas. CEA should not be used in the initial post-operative period.

Patient Preparation

None required

Turnaround Time

Same day (Monday to Friday)




7 ml


Yellow top (SST) tube

Causes for Rejection

Not meeting specific criteria for analysis.

Reference Range

Less than 5 ug/L

Reference: Roche method insert

Half-life in Serum

Approx. 4.5 days but can vary from 1 to 5 days.


Modest elevations may be found in normal pregnancy, in smokers (up to approx. 7 ug/L), in certain inflammatory bowel disorders including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, in pancreatitis, gastric ulceration and alcoholic infections. CEA can be elevated in almost any advanced adenocarcinoma where distant metastases are present and is almost never elevated in early malignancy.

Lab. Handling


Processing: Analysed from primary tube (CEA) and stored at 4C in the cold room (CB23)
(NOCEA and save in separating freezer (CB40) at -20C, saved frozen rack)



Version 1.2 / January 2015                                                                                                      Approved by: Consultant Biochemist