Currently, cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. And in order to prevent the development of a serious illness in time, doctors have created a sufficient number of various studies, analyzes and tests that can determine cancer even at the initial stage. One of these tests is the CEA analysis – for a cancer embryonic antigen. This is a kind of tumor marker that allows you to accurately establish the origin of a malignant tumor even in its very rudiment. In the article, we will consider what a CEA tumor marker is, what categories of citizens are recommended to take an analysis, how to properly prepare for the examination. Let’s touch on other important issues on this topic.
Description of the problem
Since cancer can sometimes develop extremely quickly – literally in a matter of months, or even weeks, doctors must have tools in their arsenal to determine the presence of a cancerous process at any stage. These tools include tumor markers – substances of protein origin, the abundant concentration of which in the body indicates a pathological process. Deciphering a tumor marker test allows you to quickly identify a still incipient cancer process.
Cancer – embryonic antigen – CEA, CEA and others can secrete both healthy cells in small quantities, and malignant tumors – already in a decent amount. In the body of every person, tumor markers are necessarily present, but as long as their number does not exceed the norm, there is nothing to worry about. But if this protein substance begins to form at a rapid pace – it’s time to sound the alarm. However, on the basis of the mere detection of a large amount of CEA tumor marker or another, the diagnosis of “cancer” is not made. To do this, it is necessary to undergo additional examinations, which will allow you to accurately confirm or refute the alarming diagnosis.
By the way, a blood test for cancer embryonic antigen sometimes shows an increased level of tumor markers not only in oncology, but even with a common cold. Pregnant women also “owe” their position to the increased level of tumor markers – however, after childbirth, the level will soon return to normal. It is for this reason that additional tests are needed.
What is CEA tumor marker?
Cancer embryonic antigen CEA, was discovered in 1965 by Western scientists in a patient with colon cancer. It was then that it became clear that if CEA is elevated in a certain place, this indicates a malignant cancerous process. Subsequently, the CEA marker was detected in other types of cancer, including those of the breast and ovaries.
In general, in the body, this tumor marker plays the role of a protein enzyme, which is secreted during the formation of the digestive organs in the fetus: intestines, stomach, esophagus. At this time, the concentration of the substance is highest. After a baby is born, only a small fraction of these cells remain in their blood, and even fewer in healthy adults.
This protein belongs to the group of glycoproteins, and in an adult it can be found in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, cerebrospinal fluid, and a scanty amount on mucous membranes. But only a disease or a pathological process can increase its level (exceptions: pregnancy and smoking).
It is important to know that smoking strongly affects the increased level of this tumor marker. In people who smoke for a long time, the CEA tumor marker rates are usually overestimated. By the way, this tumor marker is more reliable in predicting cancer, and not in diagnosing an existing disease.
Only a doctor can interpret the interpretation of the research results correctly. This is a rather complex and specific, highly specialized medical field, so it is better not to try to interpret on your own, and try to understand what these indicators are, and what medical problems are reflected in the figures in the results.
Who is shown to?
So, in what cases is it prescribed to donate blood for CEA?
If the patient is at risk for any reason, he is prescribed this study annually.
If the doctor suspects the patient has oncology. And also to identify in which part of the body the neoplasm is localized – with the already established fact of cancer.
Tests can determine if cancer therapy is beneficial and if there is a high risk of recurrence.
Usually at risk are people who have a burdened heredity in the form of immediate blood relatives, cancer patients or who died from it. In addition, it is necessary to annually take a blood test for rhea to citizens working in hazardous industries associated with radioactive substances, radiation, etc. things. The risk group should also include people with precancerous diseases.
If you live in the immediate vicinity of a noisy gas-polluted street, or close to smoking enterprises, in this case, the cancer embryonic antigen or, more simply, CEA, you may also have an increase: it is advisable to take this test annually.
If a person regularly goes to sunbathe in a solarium, he also needs to carefully monitor his health, since artificial tanning is a factor that provokes an increased risk of skin cancer (however, like natural tanning in excessive amounts).
The elderly are at risk, especially after reaching 60 years of age. The risk increases if the person is still smoking and drinking by then.
In addition, if the doctor sees the likelihood of developing cancer, but other studies refute this fact, a blood test for CEA is also prescribed.
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Indications and symptoms
Donation of blood CEA analysis is usually prescribed with the following symptoms:
- persistent cough and persistent shortness of breath
- the presence of clearly palpable tumor formations,
- with constant fatigue, weakness, lethargy,
- with hyperthyroidism,
- if new moles appear,
- with problems with the gastrointestinal tract,
- with an incomprehensible nature of bleeding.
The analysis for CEA is usually taken in oncological dispensaries: more precisely, in laboratories belonging to these institutions. After the test, the blood is placed in a refrigerator for freezing.
For the results to be reliable and correct, it is best to take the test on an empty stomach. Therefore, like most studies, tests for cancer-embryonic antigen are taken in the morning. Doctors also recommend stopping smoking and drinking alcohol a day before delivery. It is important to limit physical activity during the day, as well as, if possible, not to worry, to avoid stress and anxiety. All these nuances can affect the content of CEA in the blood, since the body is a single system, and everything that happens to a person is reflected in the blood composition.
After passing the analysis, the results are usually ready within a day or two or three. On their basis, the doctor concludes about the presence or absence of a pathological process in the body, establishes what this or that indicator means.
Let’s find out what the CEA tumor marker shows in the blood test.
This test is interesting in that in this case the doctor must know whether a person smokes or not, since the rate of rea for smokers and nonsmokers differs.
CEA blood test results table
Sex Smoking Non-Smoking
Rea tumor marker and its rate in men and women, as you can see, are the same – the figures differ only in terms of smoking/non-smoking. For smokers, the rate is approximately twice as high as for non-smokers. And this fact should be borne in mind by a specialist who deciphers the results of this analysis.
If the rate of the tumor marker is increased to 6,5–10 ng/ml, this indicates that benign formations may be present in the body. If the indicator has exceeded 10 ng/ml, there is reason to suspect oncology: additional studies, including the CEA tumor marker, will establish this with accuracy.
Reasons for the increase
If the rea tumor marker is determined, and its rate is increased, this does not mean at all that it is time to run to a cancer clinic for treatment. There are other possible reasons, consider the most common of them. So it could be:
- hepatitis or cirrhosis,
- kidney problems
- pneumonia and some other diseases,
- polyps and ulcerative colitis,
In addition, in the case of benign neoplasms (cysts and tumors), the amount of embryonic antigen in the blood test also increases. Infectious diseases are also quite probable, and quite harmless in comparison with others, the cause.
It is important with the help of additional examinations and analyzes to establish the exact reasons. Among the mandatory studies, they are prescribed:
- MRI and other types of examinations.
We examined the reasons for the increase in CEA levels, not related to oncology. However, first of all, the test is carried out to identify precisely malignant neoplasms. So which cancers in men and women can this study detect?
- tumors of the head and cervical spine,
- oncological process in the lungs,
- the presence of metastases in bone tissue, liver,
- tumors of the rectum and colon, colorectal cancer,
- breast cancer, ovarian cancer – common variants of neoplasms in women,
- tumors of the thyroid gland and more rare localizations.
As you can see, the cancer embryonic antigen is a unique substance that makes it possible to reliably establish the presence of cancer at an early stage. Take care of your health and regularly undergo medical research in order to have time to protect yourself from insidious deadly diseases.