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Dazed and Confused

Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2012


I'm new to the discussion board forum world but I've been reading different boards and there is a lot of helpful and inspiring stories. My dad was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer about 2 1/2 years ago. They also found two spots on his liver. He immediately had surgery on his colon. It was very successful. Once he was able, he began receiving chemo every other week. He is now about to start his fourth combination of chemo (not sure what its called) as his doctor says the other is not working anymore. She says there are only 5 and once he becomes immune then that's it. He has been taking Chemo every week for the last year or so.

About a year and half ago, I asked him to go for a second opinion at MD Anderson and they wanted to do surgery on the liver. His doctor in San Antonio said she didn't agree with the surgery because there was nothing there, that the cancer in the liver was "dead". After going through a major surgery already she had made up his mind and he opted not to have surgery. Reading this board it seems like people have had multiple surgeries and it has helped.

His current doctor relies heavily on CEA counts and continue to do scans every once in awhile and they come back clear. In the last couple of months his CEA counts have increased from 7-ish to 21.3 on the most recent test.

I'll admit I have not been as involved with his appointments as I should have because he felt comfortable with his doctors and their decisions. I'm at a point where I'm not going to just sit around and let his doc tell him what to do. I'm in the process of making an appointment for a third opinion.

Anyone have an opinion on the situation or suggestions?

I guess my biggest question is (probably bc of my lack of knowledge) is the fact that his current doc relies so heavily on CEA counts when his PET and CTs dont show anything. I just want him to have as much time as possible.

Your opinions and suggestions are greatly appreciated!


Lovekitties's picture
Posts: 3372
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi January, I hope that you will find this board as helpful as those of us here have.

CEA can be a reliable marker for some, but it also can be influenced by other things such as infection.

Usually scans with contrast will 'light up' any suspicious areas...but only if they are large enough.

All that said, there is no clear way of knowing for sure beyond waiting for growth or surgery to visually see cancer.

It is good that you are encouraging him to seek another opinion. Do your best to gather all test results on previous scans and blood work to help establish his history.

Wishing you and your dad best results possible.

Marie who loves kitties

Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2012

Thank for your comments!

Wish you a Happy Holiday Season!

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6715
Joined: Feb 2009

CEA is not always reliable and no doctor should solely rely on the reading of that to determine whether one has CC or not. Some doctors don't ever request it because it can be inaccurate due to many factors. Getting a third opinion is a good option. Having his doctor do a scan "whenever" amazes me. Most doctors have a protocal on tests but I'm not sure of your father's length of time between scans as you didn't mention. There is a new drug that just came on the market (sorry don't know what the name of it is) and I'm thinking it started with a Z. See what the new doctor says and go from there. Wishing the best for your father.


Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2012


Thanks for taking the time to respond! We are in the process of making an appointment for a third opinion and should e scheduled for early January.

Happy Holidays to you!

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