Lab Test

Carcinoembryonic Antigen

Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA)

Test Codes

Antrim #30225, EPIC: LAB5804, CEA

Department

Chemistry

Specimen Collection Criteria

Collect: One Gold-top SST tube. (Minimum Whole Blood: 2.0 mL)

Physician Office/Draw Specimen Preparation

Let specimen clot 30-60 minutes then immediately centrifuge to separate serum from cells. Refrigerate (2-8°C or 36-46°F) the centrifuged SST tube within 2 hours of collection. Serum may also be transferred to a plastic aliquot tube and refrigerated. (Minimum Serum: 0.5 mL)

Red-top tubes without separator gels are acceptable, but must be centrifuged and aliquoted within 2 hours of collection.

Preparation for Courier Transport

Transport: Centrifuged SST tube or serum aliquot tube, refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F). (Minimum Serum: 0.5 mL)

Rejection Criteria

Plasma specimens.

Severely lipemic, icteric, or hemolyzed specimens. 

In-Lab Processing

Let specimen clot 30-60 minutes then immediately centrifuge to separate serum from cells. Transfer serum to a plastic aliquot tube and refrigerate (2-8°C or 36-46°F). (Minimum Serum: 0.5 mL)

Storage

Specimen Stability for Testing:

Centrifuged SST Tubes and Microtainers® with Separator Gels
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 2 hours
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable

Red-top Tubes and Microtainers® without Separator Gels
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 2 hours
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): Unacceptable
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): Unacceptable

Serum Specimens (Pour-Overs)
Room Temperature (20-26°C or 68-78.8°F): 2 hours
Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days
Frozen (-20°C/-4°F or below): 2 months

Specimen Storage in Department Prior to Disposal:

Refrigerated (2-8°C or 36-46°F): 7 days

Laboratory

Dearborn Chemistry Laboratory

Royal Oak Automated Chemistry Laboratory

Performed

Monday – Friday.
Results available in 2 business days.

Reference Range

Less than or equal to 3.0 ng/mL.

Test Methodology

Chemiluminescent Immunoassay.

Interpretation

CEA levels are elevated in smokers and in patients with nonmalignant disease. CEA levels should not be interpreted as absolute evidence of the presence or absence of malignant disease. CEA values should be evaluated in conjunction with information available from clinical evaluation and other diagnostic procedures. Surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation may cause abnormal CEA levels. CEA assays should not be ordered until 4-6 weeks after surgery.

The specimens of patients who have received preparations of mouse monoclonal antibodies for diagnosis or therapy may contain human anti-mouse antibodies. These specimens may have falsely elevated or depressed values and should not be tested with this assay.

Half Life in Blood: 2 weeks.

Clinical Utility

Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a tumor associated antigen. The CEA assay is used as a marker for colorectal, lung, breast, pancreatic carcinoma, and as an adjunct test in the diagnosis of malignant pleural effusions. CEA assay should not be used as a screening test. CEA assays are a useful tool as a marker for recurrent disease and as a test of the effectiveness of treatment.

The CEA assay is used to monitor response to therapy of patients following surgery and/or chemotherapy. A persistent elevation in circulating CEA following treatment is strongly indicative of occult metastatic and/or residual disease and a poor therapeutic response. Decreasing CEA values are generally indicative of a favorable prognosis and a good response to treatment.

It is important to obtain a preoperative CEA level for prognosis and to assess the success of surgical resection in patients with colorectal and bronchogenic carcinoma. Patients with normal preoperative CEA values tend to have low recurrence rates and longer median survival times. The higher the preoperative CEA level, the shorter the postoperative disease-free period.

CEA serum levels may be elevated 2-18 months prior to clinical detection of colorectal disease recurrence.

CPT Codes

82378
LOINC: 2039-6, Pancreatic Fluid 12515-3

Contacts

Last Updated

8/2/2021

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