CEASF - Clinical: Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA), Spinal Fluid

Test Catalog

Test Name

Test ID: CEASF    
Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA), Spinal Fluid

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Detecting meningeal carcinomatosis, intradural or extradural infiltration, or brain parenchymal metastasis from adenocarcinoma or squamous-cell carcinoma

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) normally is present in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in very low concentrations. Elevations in serum CEA can cause passive transfer to CSF. Tumors of the brain, especially metastatic tumors, can elevate CSF CEA.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

<0.6 ng/mL

Tumor markers are not specific for malignancy, and values may vary by method.

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Increased values are seen in approximately 60% of patients with meningeal carcinomatosis.


Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Although the assay appears to be specific for adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, increased carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) values in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are not seen in all patients with such tumors of the brain.


Mildly elevated CEA values in CSF may be secondary to passive transfer from the serum in individuals with high serum CEA concentrations.


Some patients who have been exposed to animal antigens, either in the environment or as part of treatment or imaging procedure, may have circulating anti-animal antibodies present. These antibodies may interfere with the assay reagents to produce unreliable results.

Clinical Reference Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Klee GG, Tallman RD, Goellner JR, Yanagihara T: Elevation of carcinoembryonic antigen in cerebrospinal fluid among patients with meningeal carcinomatosis. Mayo Clin Proc 1986;61:9-13

2. Go VLW, Zamcheck N: The role of tumor markers in the management of colorectal cancer. (Cancer 50[Suppl 1]);1982:2618-2623

3. Moertel CG, et al: An evaluation of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test for monitoring patients with resected colon cancer. JAMA 1993;270:943-947