Phil Gold Medicine

Developed the first and still most widely used blood test for certain types of cancer

The Story

After Gold received his BSc (1957), MSc (1961) and PhD (1965) from McGill, he and Samuel Freedman discovered a carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) produced during growth of cancer cells of the digestive system. This antigen is produced in tumors and fetal embryonic gut, pancreas and liver cells, but not by normal adult cells. A blood test was developed that can indicate the presence, spread or reoccurrence of cancer. The CEA test has proved useful in assessing the extent of a cancer, its growth rate and response to treatment, but it is not reliable in testing for the presence of tumors, since early tumors do not produce enough CEA to be detected. The discovery of CEA opened the new field of onco-fetal antigens. Recently, the CEA gene was cloned and its functional activity is under investigation. 

Sources: The Manning Awards; McGill Communiqué; personal communication


The Person

September 17, 1936
Montreal, Quebec
Medical Doctor; Oncologist; Professor; Executive Director
Montreal General Hospital
  • Gairdner Award, 1978
  • Manning Award, 1982
  • F.N.G Starr Award of the Canadian Medical Association, 1983
  • Izaak Walton Killam Award, 1985
  • Companion of the Order of Canada, 1986
  • Officer of the Order of Quebec, 1990
Last Updated
September 16, 2015

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