Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was measured in whole serum and in serum extracted with perchloric acid by microradioimmunoassay in patients with benign and malignant diseases of the liver and pancreas. The level of detectability was 5 ng per ml. This level or greater was present in the serum of 50% of patients with chronic diffuse liver disease, 64% with pancreatitis, 94% with cancer of the digestive system, and 3% of controls. The incidence of levels of CEA of 5 ng/ml or more differed for various categories of chronic liver disease: from 22% in active chronic hepatitis, 46% in primary biliary cirrhosis, 63% in hepatoma, 78% in cryptogenic cirrhosis, and 88% in alcoholic cirrhosis; levels of CEA correlated with degrees of impairment of liver function as judged by bromsulphalein retention and serum levels of alkaline phosphatase and transaminase. In pancreatitis, 64% of cases had levels of CEA ranging from 5 to 20 ng/ml and in cancer of the pancreas 94% had levels above 5 ng/ml and 50% above 20 ng/ml.
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