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Papers And Originals

Role of Plasma Carcinoembryonic Antigen in Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal, Mammary, and Bronchial Carcinoma

Br Med J 1972; 3 doi: (Published 09 September 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;3:605
  1. D. J. R. Laurence,
  2. U. Stevens,
  3. R. Bettelheim,
  4. D. Darcy,
  5. C. Leese,
  6. C. Turberville,
  7. P. Alexander,
  8. E. W. Johns,
  9. A. Munro Neville


    Our studies have confirmed that raised plasma levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (C.E.A.) occur with many but not all malignant tumours, particularly those of the gastrointestinal tract, breast, and bronchus. However, the incidence of raised values may reach 30% in diseases associated with inflammation or regeneration or both. Consequently, it cannot serve yet as a routine screening test for cancer. Effective surgical therapy results in high plasma C.E.A. levels returning to normal. Subsequent rises appear to develop with tumour recurrence or spread. At present the most useful role for C.E.A. seems to be in monitoring patients during the post-therapeutic followup period. Further basic work is required before C.E.A. can become of routine medical value.