The full content of Annals is available to subscribers

Subscribe/Learn More  >
Diagnosis and Treatment |

Carcinoembryonic Antigen

[+] Article, Author, and Disclosure Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Robert H. Fletcher, M.D., M.Sc.; Box 1, 5034 Old Clinic, Clinical Scholars Program, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Chapel Hill, NC 27514.

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

© 1986 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1986;104(1):66-73. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-104-1-66
Text Size: A A A

The level of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is often elevated in the serum of patients with cancer. This article reviews the clinical usefulness of this observation. Carcinoembryonic antigen is not useful for detecting asymptomatic cancer; its sensitivity and specificity are not high, particularly for early stages of disease, so in populations with low prevalence of disease there are many false-positive and false-negative results. Similarly, the antigen level cannot, by itself, provide enough diagnostic certainty to confirm or rule out suspected cancer. For some cancers, antigen levels at the time of diagnosis provide more precise prognosis than staging alone, but this information does not lead to more effective treatment. Serial measurement of CEA levels after surgery in patients with colorectal cancer can detect recurrences early, but few lives can be saved by this approach. Thus, CEA assays provide accurate information about some aspects of cancer but rarely lead to better outcomes for patients.





Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Submit a Comment/Letter
Submit a Comment/Letter

Summary for Patients

Clinical Slide Sets

Terms of Use

The In the Clinic® slide sets are owned and copyrighted by the American College of Physicians (ACP). All text, graphics, trademarks, and other intellectual property incorporated into the slide sets remain the sole and exclusive property of the ACP. The slide sets may be used only by the person who downloads or purchases them and only for the purpose of presenting them during not-for-profit educational activities. Users may incorporate the entire slide set or selected individual slides into their own teaching presentations but may not alter the content of the slides in any way or remove the ACP copyright notice. Users may make print copies for use as hand-outs for the audience the user is personally addressing but may not otherwise reproduce or distribute the slides by any means or media, including but not limited to sending them as e-mail attachments, posting them on Internet or Intranet sites, publishing them in meeting proceedings, or making them available for sale or distribution in any unauthorized form, without the express written permission of the ACP. Unauthorized use of the In the Clinic slide sets will constitute copyright infringement.


Buy Now for $42.00

to gain full access to the content and tools.

Want to Subscribe?

Learn more about subscription options

Related Articles
Topic Collections
PubMed Articles
Forgot your password?
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a reminder to the email address on record.