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Cancerous and Benign Causes of Elevated CEA 125 Level

Benign and dangerous causes of elevated CEA 125 level in bloodCEA 125 is an antigen that is expressed in the epithelial linings of the female genital tract, respiratory tract, cornea and conjunctiva. It is encoded by the MUC 16 gene (Mucin 16 Gene). MUC 16 protein (CEA), is a complex molecule, heavily glycosylated and easily water soluble, which allows it to keep the epithelial surfaces wet and lubricated. This creates a lubricated barrier against foreign bodies and pathogens.
CEA 125 is a tumour marker, it is found to be elevated in dangerous conditions like numerous cancers. But if it's level comes higher in a patient it doesn’t mean that she or he is definitely suffering from cancer, This is because there are several non-cancerous or benign conditions that may raise the CEA 125 level in blood.

Dangerous (Cancerous) causes of elevated CEA 125 level:

Dangerous or cancerous causes are those that have the tendency to decrease the life expectancy of a patient unless they are eliminated or controlled. These include numerous cancers including,
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Fallopian Tube Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
These are the dangerous conditions which may elevate the CEA 125 level in blood. Lets us now discuss the benign or non-dangerous conditions that may elevate the CEA 125 level.

Benign Causes of Elevated CEA 125 level.

Benign or non-cancerous causes are those which are relatively non-dangerous or are not life-threatening. These include:

Can it be used as a screening method for ovarian cancer?

From the above discussion now we know that there are several non-dangerous or benign conditions that may lead to an elevated level of CEA 125 in blood. Thus, CEA 125 level can’t be used as a screening method for ovarian cancer in women. But CEA 125 level can be used as a prognostic factor after the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. But in some ovarian cancers, CEA 125 level doesn’t elevate at all. So there are limitations. It can only be used as a prognostic factor in those ovarian cancers which elevate the level of CEA 125 in blood. In this cancer, after the onset of treatment, response to the treatment can be measured with the help of CEA 125 level in blood. Those patients who respond to the treatment will show a progressive decrease in the level of CEA 125. But there are limitations and further studies are needed to determine the exact role of CEA 125 in prognosis and response to treatment.


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