Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) testing in colorectal cancer follow up: what do patients think?
  1. Nicola Steele2,
  2. Rachel Haigh1,
  3. Gillian Knowles1,
  4. Melanie Mackean1
  1. 1Edinburgh Cancer Centre, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, Glasgow, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Nicola Steele
 The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, 1053 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 0YN, UK; nicola.steele{at}


The carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) blood test is included in most colorectal cancer follow up protocols, despite little clear evidence for its cost-effectiveness and survival benefit. In this study, patients’ views were sought on the use of the CEA blood test in their follow up. Strong associations were found between the age of a patient’s children and their concern about cancer recurrence and between concern about recurrence and anxiety about CEA test results (p<0.0001). Many patients expressed a desire for prognostic information, however uncertain or poor. Patients’ views should be sought when designing colorectal cancer follow up protocols to ensure their needs are adequately addressed.

  • colorectal cancer
  • follow up
  • questionnaire
  • carcinoembryonic antigen

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: None to declare.

  • Ethical approval: This study was approved by a local research ethics committee.

    Contributors: NS and MM designed the study, piloted the questionnaire and wrote the manuscript. RH and GK recruited patients and collected data.