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CEA Levels Rising, Final 12th Folfox Treatment Cancelled

Phil64's picture
Posts: 626
Joined: Apr 2012

Is it time to panic?

CEA Tests:

Date Description Level
========== ============================= =====
05/03/2012 Pre Colon Resection 19.7
05/16/2012 Post Colon Resection (5 days) 8.1
06/05/2012 Post Lung Resection (4 days) 6.3
06/21/2012 First Chemo Infusion 3.7
09/20/2012 Later in chemo cycle 8.7
10/04/2012 Pre Treatment 6 10.1
10/18/2012 Pre Treatment 9 6.3
11/15/2012 Pre Treatment 10 13.3
11/29/2012 Pre Treatment 11 24.1
12/13/2012 Pre Treatment 12 19.0

The doctor recommended we cancel the last treatment and start searching for possible recurrances. I just had a PET and CT scan done on 10/1. That scan showed a small nodule in the right lung. However, a follow-up chest CT on 11/12 showed the nodule as gone. The conclusion was that the nodule was probably due to inflamation. Now I'm scheduled to undergo an additional CT Scan (chest and abdomen) on 12/30.

How many scans does it take to find cancer? Can the tumors really be hidden and not show up on scans? How much stock do I put in the CEA tests? What chance is there that the rising CEA is due to a non-cancer cause?

Not too long ago I didn't know anything about CEA, neurapathy, CT scans vs. PET scans vs. MRIs. I miss those days!!!

Who has taken a ride on the CEA rollercoaster? Maybe you can share with me what will happen next?

geotina's picture
Posts: 2103
Joined: Oct 2009

Looking at your CEA, it seems to go up and down a few points with each treatment. George only had his checked monthly but it seems like your docs do it more often. Sometimes, chemo takes time to do its job and sometimes, CEA is not a good indicator for everyone. With a reading of 19.0, I would be concerned but I don't think it is time to panic. It appears you spiked at the end of November but with the next treatment it stabilized. Often, this is the case. You mentioned you are having a CT scan in December and it will be chest and abdomen, just a thought but as long as they are doing scans, have them do chest, abdomen and pelvis just in case something is going on in the pelvis area.

Your docs seem to be on top of things and perhaps the next line of treatment will serve you better and yes, it definitely is a rollercoaster with its peaks and valleys.

I'm in Michigan (metro Detroit area) also. Where are you being treated?

Take care and best wishes - Tina

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4410
Joined: Jun 2009

"The conclusion was that the nodule was probably due to inflamation. Now I'm scheduled to undergo an additional CT Scan (chest and abdomen) on 12/30."

A: I'm on board with this so far, Phil.

"How many scans does it take to find cancer?"

A: As many times as they deem medically feasible...right now, they are being aggressive in their scanning...I can't really argue against it...better to be safe than sorry at this point...they are trying to determine where you are at as well. Not really a bad thing here, Phil.

"Can the tumors really be hidden and not show up on scans?"

A: You bet they can! Happened to me...did the first major lung surgery...2 months later on first post-surgery scan...bingo...hidden gems hiding behind other organs.

"How much stock do I put in the CEA tests?"

A: Depends on where you are in your battle and if the testing still seems relevant in relation to your situation. Early on when cancer was in my liver, CEA was a good marker and relevant...when it went to my lungs...I found out that it no longer meant diddly...my CEA was the lowest ever (0.5) and I had a huge lung tumor...the size of a tangerine...7-more wedge resections...2 chest ribs sawed off...and six-weeks of intense radiation to the lungs, which destroyed another 10% of an already dwindling lung capacity on the right side.

"What chance is there that the rising CEA is due to a non-cancer cause?"

A: Anything is possible...it could be inflammation or an infection...like the lung nodule that went away...rising CEA during chemo treatment is quite common...it can actually fluctuate back and forth like a pendulum. As cancer cells die, they emit a protein into the bloodstream that elevates CEA level...and your blood draw (during that phase) would reflect that result.

"Maybe you can share with me what will happen next?

A: All my stuff is buried in the archives, Phil...it's a treasure trove of the journey from start to...it's there if you want to read it...type my name in search and there is more in there than you will ever want to read.

What happens next is not for any of us to know...I'm asking myself that question on both cancer and non-cancer issues in my life right now.

You'll be alright, Phil...keep your shovel in your toolshed...you're not going anywhere.

Your fight is early on...and there's many a slip - betwixt the cup and the lip.

I'll be waiting for you further on up the road...

Take care and have a good holiday!


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