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Carcino Embryonic Antigen (CEA)

CEA is a 200.000 Daltons oncofetal glycoprotein expressed by normal tissues during the first six months of fetal life. Later on the expression of CEA by normal cells becomes largely repressed except in cancer tissues of various cell types, which may secrete large amounts of this oncofetal protein into the circulation. Widely accepted as a useful adjunct for monitoring the course of cancer diseases, CEA should not be regarded as a tumor-specific marker because it is still secreted in small amounts by certain normal tissues during adult life, with small serum level increases in case of benign diseases such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, renal failure and in heavy smokers. Therefore, the measurement of CEA serum concentration for diagnostic purposes must be considered with great care.

Clinical applications

  • Monitoring of cancer diseases
  • Diagnostic adjunct in cancer
  • Prognostic adjunct in cancer
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