NHS website

Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test

Find out what a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test is, why it's used and when it's carried out.

21 December 2018


A carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test is used to check how well treatment is working in certain types of cancer, particularly colon cancer ↗.

Carcinoembryonic antigens are substances (usually proteins) that are produced by some types of cancer ↗.

In response to the antigens, the body produces antibodies to help fight them.

A CEA test is often carried out after surgery to check carcinoembryonic antigen levels.

As well as being a useful marker for colon cancer, CEA tests can be used to assess other types of cancer, including:

CEA levels may also be raised in non-cancerous conditions, such as liver disease ↗ and inflammatory bowel disease ↗ (Crohn's disease ↗ and ulcerative colitis ↗).

Read more about the CEA test ↗ at Lab Tests Online UK.