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What conditions can cause an elevated CEA?
Both benign and malignant (harmless and cancerous) conditions can increase the CEA level. The most frequent cancer which causes an increased CEA is cancer of the colon and rectum. Others include cancers of the pancreas, stomach, breast, lung, and certain types of thyroid and ovarian cancer. Benign conditions which can elevate CEA include smoking, infections, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and some benign tumors in the same organs in which an elevated CEA indicates cancer. Benign disease does not usually cause an increase above 10 ng/ml.