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Posts: 109
Joined: Dec 2007

What is CEA?
... and what is a good range??

Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2007

From what I understand the cea or carcinoembryonic antigen(no wonder they shorten it to cea) is a protein molecule found in cells which some cancers produce. This is done through a blood test and some benign conditions can cause a rise in the cea so it doesnt always mean cancer. The norms are <2.5 for adult non-smokers and for some reason smokers can be higher and still be norm <5.0. Hope this helps.


Limey's picture
Posts: 447
Joined: Mar 2004

For some it is an accurate measurement of tumor activity or non activity. For others (i am one of the others) it is a poor indicator. on my first re-occurance, my oncologist was certain that my pain was not realted to cancer due to my non elevated cea, but with further testing i was at stage iv. So for myself, I never worry about it. but for others it is quite a good marker.

nudgie's picture
Posts: 1480
Joined: Sep 2006

CEA is a blood test that is used for a marker for colon cancer, like CA125 is blood work used as a marker for Ovarian cancer.

Ranges will vary depending upon the lab used and whether you smoke or not. Where I got tested, the range was 0.5 to 3.0 for normal.

CEA is not always a good marker for everyone. In my case this test was never done in the beginning so there is no way to ever know if my CEA was elevated before surgery.

I hope this helps

Posts: 84
Joined: Dec 2007

I concur with all of the above. As I look at posts here, I see mention of CEA's that range mainly from 1 to 100. My CEA started out at close to 700 and has been all over the place from as low as 19 (which my doctor thought must be a mistake) to over 500, back down to around 100, back up to 300, etc. When I am on chemo, it drops. When I'm not, it goes up. So when I see someone concerned about an increase of a fraction of a point from, say, 1.7 to 2, I am astounded and saying "I only wish that was me." So, either I can't rely on CEA, or I'm in real big trouble.

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Thanks all for the explanations.

I'm not sure what the "normal" range is for me. I know that when I was on chemo, apparently my readings were "normal" and hovering at 0. But then when we did the first CEA test post-chemo in December, my results were considered "slightly elevated"... and registered at a 6. My oncologist told me not to worry about it because it could be a false positive or, as others have mentioned here, there are a lot of conditions that could make it go up.

So in Feb (Feb 4) we had the CEA test again and it was even higher.. it was an 18. So my oncologist has ordered a PET scan for me, which I'll be having done on March 6th.

I have been a bit worried about this but after reading all of your explanations, especially yours cjf2006, I'm thinking that I might not have to be too worried about an 18 reading in the CEA test... and, if that's true, then the PET scan will just be additional insurance that I'm doing ok :)


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