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What is the tumor marker CEA?

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Quick Answer

CEA stands for carcinoembryonic antigen, and it is a protein found in the blood of people with certain types of cancer. CEA is present in the bloodstream during fetal development, but is not found in the blood work of healthy adults, according to WebMD.

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Full Answer

The presence of the carcinoembryonic antigen in the blood is indicative of colon and rectal cancer, and may also be found in patients with pancreatic, breast, ovarian or lung cancers, according to WebMD. A CEA test that measures the amount of the antigen in a person's system can tell how far the cancer has spread and indicates how well treatment is working.

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