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Tumor markers

eibod
Posts: 160
Joined: Mar 2011

I am new to this site. Was wondering if anyone could tell me the
importance of CEA tumor markers? What is considered high?

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

0-3 for non smokers
4-6 for smokers........those are the normal ranges for smokers and non smokers......
....and it just depends if CEA is a reliable marker ..It isn't in some people.....if it is then CEA tends to show either activity in abnormal cells or increased activity in cells already known to be there......may or may not be cancer though...biopsy, pathology, that will tell the tale.......

buzz

Lori-S's picture
Lori-S
Posts: 1287
Joined: Sep 2010

The importance depends totally on whether or not CEA is an indicator for you. It is important to remember that it is THE TREND in your markers.

Here is how it goes. You should have your CEA measured before surgery or any treatment (when first diagnosed). Then the CEA needs to be ran after surgery or treatment. The CEA should show a downward number after surgery as the tumor responsible for the elevation was removed. If your CEA was up before surgery or treatment and then came down, it most likely is a good indicator for you. Buzz gave you the numbers that the labs use as normal numbers. If your CEA shows a trend like mentioned above, it can be used in conjunction with other test (CScans, MRIs, PETs, etc) to monitor for tumor growth. It is not how high the number is but, whether or not it is trending for you. Some tumors will have high numbers and others lower numbers. It does not mean that the higher number tumor is bigger or badder than the slower number. Each tumor and each recurrence will have a different tendency and CEA may be an indicator for you for one tumor and then not so for another. That is why it is not used on it's own for diagnosis or monitoring your cancer. Also, inflammatory processes and some illnesses will elevate you CEA so there is always the possibility that an elevation may be caused by something other than cancer.

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

couldn't have said it better myself.lol.......buzz

here4lfe
Posts: 306
Joined: Jan 2010

Excellent explanation. It is the trend, not the magnitude of the numbers. My wife's never got as high as 14, and I see others in the hundreds, but a movement from 3 to 6 got the oncologist team moving VERY FAST. CEA is an excellent marker for her, so we monitor it very closely.

Best

tanstaafl's picture
tanstaafl
Posts: 1292
Joined: Oct 2010

We've tracked CA19-9 as a biomarker also. More recently tracked inflammation (CRP, ESR or PV) to better separate inflammation effects, and to treat the inflammation. ESR seems cheapest, perhaps more stable than CRP, and more readily available. Plasma viscosityng testi is less available.

I don't think most people can get the labwork and technical support to intrepret biomarkers closely, including elevations due to chemo changes or necrosis, for weighing non-unique answers (e.g. either it's dissolving releasing biomarker, something is really active, or just an inflammation effect).

Love2Cats's picture
Love2Cats
Posts: 127
Joined: Dec 2010

My CEA started at 13.7 back in late November of 2010. Now after a colon resection, and my first chemo, my CEA dropped to 8.7. After my second chemo, my level dropped to 6.2, which is near normal (still cheating a little with the darn smoking). Does this mean if I get into the normal range, that I will be NED, or they will stop my chemo treatments? I am stage 4 if that matters or not. Thanks for the help

Lori-S's picture
Lori-S
Posts: 1287
Joined: Sep 2010

Only your doctor might call you NED. As I said above, the marker is used with other tests to make that determination. Wether or not they will stop chemo will depend on you onc also and if you are stage 4, then where your mets are and how they've responded will be a major factor on the chemo question and NED.

eibod
Posts: 160
Joined: Mar 2011

Thanks to everyone for the info. I am not sure I am in the correct chatroom, my husband
is the cancer patient, not myself. He was diagnosed October 2009 with colon cancer, stage 4, mets to liver. Since then he has had chemo, rectal tumor fulgaration, liver oblazion (sp?). He was in the hospital for chemo complications during Christmas of 2009. He is in his second round of chemo, in January 2011 had a blockage with emergency surgery for a colostomy. He was in the hospital 5 weeks, contacted vre infection. Was delusional for a week of that time. Reading all of your comments makes me feel so guilty.
You're all so cheerful, and you are the patients. I feel so guilty because I am so exhausted with cancer and the way it takes over your life. I am scared because I don't know what to expect next, and it makes me feel angry.

pete43lost_at_sea's picture
pete43lost_at_sea
Posts: 3908
Joined: Nov 2010

Hi eibod,

I had similar feelings, but they really do wear you down. I always tried to live in the now as they say before cancer with some success. Now with my DX stage 3 rectal 9 months ago, operation and almost finished mopup chemo I am looking at doing the best each day I can to live well and help others.

So this board and the people carers and patients have a wealth of experience and offer non medical but real life advice.

Cancer is dammed scary, but you can overcome the fear by facing it, educating yourself. The eductation thing is really never ending. I really hope your husband recovers and gets better health. We are all human and make mistakes, so don't feel to guilty and try and see the beauty thats around us everywhere.

Welcome to the board, I hope you visit often.

Pete

Lori-S's picture
Lori-S
Posts: 1287
Joined: Sep 2010

Please don't feel guilty for what you are feeling. We all have feelings ... sometimes positive and sometimes negative. Just go ahead and feel them and if you need to vent about them, we are here for you.

It sounds like you two have had a tough time with the additional things that cancer brings along ... like the blockage, infection and chemo problems. You guys are not alone. Feel free to come here and share your experience and we'll do our best to help you out and listen to your experiences.

Welcome ... and yes, you are on the right board. We have lots of caregivers here with us patients and I'm sure they will share what they are going through as well. We all get exhausted, angry and scared sometimes. Maybe being here will help you feel so not alone so you don't have to shoulder the burden all on your own. It helps to have people to communicate with that are in the same boat. And feel free to ask questions as there is no such thing as a dumb question and there so much love and knowledge in this group to share.

Again Welcome. HUGS

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here4lfe
Posts: 306
Joined: Jan 2010

I know how you feel. Just know that your time with your husband is precious, so push all negativity out of the way, get a routine (hard to do when you have to rush off to the emergency room, etc), and enjoy the good days.

Keep reading this forum for information and inspiration, then hop over to the caregivers forum too. You are not alone.

Best

AnneCan
Posts: 3692
Joined: Oct 2009

I just want to welcome you to this site. I hope you will find it helpful; I know I do!

joy44's picture
joy44
Posts: 50
Joined: Jan 2011

Markers what are they and should my husband and I know about these? My husband is stage 4, he just had his third round of chemo, everyone keeps asking about numbers and markers, I asked our onocologist she said we didn't need to worry about them, his blood count and platlets are low and thats all we know. I am concerned that we don't know enough and now we are having battle of the onocologists, chemo and radiation ??? What do we need to know

eibod
Posts: 160
Joined: Mar 2011

I am still not sure about Tumor Markers. My husbands were 9.6 end of November 2010 and
last week 25.8. The dr hasn't mentioned this so should I be concerned. He is still
having chemo every other week, so shouldn't it go down? He stays in bed most of the
time, never has energy. Us this normal?

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