What is the role of carcinoembryonic antigen testing in the evaluation of pancreatic cancer?

Updated: Jan 10, 2020
  • Author: Tomislav Dragovich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Answer

Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a high–molecular weight glycoprotein found normally in fetal tissues. The reference range is 2.5 mg/mL or less. CEA has commonly been used as a tumor marker in other gastrointestinal malignancies, but only 40-45% of patients with pancreatic carcinoma have elevated CEA levels. In addition, benign and malignant conditions other than pancreatic cancer can lead to elevated CEA levels. Thus, CEA is not a sensitive or specific marker for pancreatic cancer.


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