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I took a ct-scan and cea tests after treatment and was NED. My onc said he wanted me to do another ct-scan/CEA test three months later which is Dec. My gastro guy sent me a letter and reminds me it was a year since my colonscopy and suggests I should get another. My last and only colonscopy was last Nov which detected the cancer. Anyone know what tests are needed when?

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Lou -

Sounds to me like each of the tests would be a normal thing. Since my cancer is a genetic type I get scoped every year. depending on the specifics of your situation (how long you have been out of treatment, type of CRC you had, history, etc.) it isn't unreasonable to have an annual scope.

The CT scan would be looking for suspicious stuff elsewhere in your body. Seeing as you had one 3 months ago, they would probably be looking for any change from that baseline CT scan.

regarding the CEA test, they - again - look for a change from the baseline test. Is the CEA going up or down significantly. That may be an indicator of something going on that they need to check into more.

I don't know if there is a "right" schedule for tests; everyone's case is different. Sounds to me, though, like your medical team is being cautious and that's a good thing. If they weren't wanting to do a scope and if they didn't seem to care abouta CEA and/or a CT, I would bemore concerned. Sounds like you are in good hands!

Hope this helps.

- SB

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003


I agree with SpongeBob! I have CT Scans every two to three months and have had that for the past 2 years. I have a colonoscopy about every 2 years. My CEA is checked monthly for any changes. My CEA is pretty accurate with cancer growth.

Best of luck.


Kanort's picture
Posts: 1275
Joined: Jan 2004


Your follow up schedule sounds exactly like mine. Congratulations on your NED status.



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KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

I remember sitting in my GI gals' office, and scheduling my first post-cancer scopy. I said "So, then, after this one, if it's clean, I can skip to 3 years, right?" (Mine cancer was not on a polyp). She looked at me with her best stern doctor look and said "Not ONLY do you need a yearly scope, but you need blood work every 3 months, Kathi. And possibly, depending on the blood, a scan at the same time. Did you foget you had cancer twice????"

Yes, what they are suggesting sounds pretty normal to me...the only piece of advice is that DRINK the required amount of water after the CT....I didn't, and ended up with slight rad sickness the next day (of course, I was still getting zapped everyday at that point for the breast cancer...felt like I had been in Hiroshima..lol)

Hugs, Kathi

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

I agree with everyone else, do all 3....colonoscopy now, scans and blood next month. Depending on what they find during the colonoscopy, they will tell you when to come for your next one.

My oncologist told me CT scans DO NOT pick up tumors less then 2 centimeters in the bowels MOST of time so colonoscopies are very important to us semi-colons.

Lisa P.

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Starting about 2 months after my resection (stage 2 rectal) I started getting blood tests every two weeks, later every month, now after 10 months every two months. One year after, I'm getting a colonoscopy a couple of weeks from now. My doctors haven't said anything to me about another CT scan after the one I had when I was diagnosed. Are follow-up CT scans standard? I don't think I've had any PET scans.

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

Followup scans are usually indicated, I think at first a minimum of 6 months after surgery if no chemo was done. By doing a PET scan with the CT they can better analyze any spots.


Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I know there is a lot of variation on follow-up tests. I'm was on colonoscopy every 12 months but now every 2 years (some go to every 3 years. I'm on 2 because my CEA isn't reliable). I have CEA every 3 mos (even tho it wasn't elevated for me before, if it suddenly shoots up, that would be important). I have CT or PET every 3 mos. I'm on a shorter schedule because I already had one recurrence. If I hadn't, I think it would be gradually stretching to once a year. Sometimes it depends on your insurance company. And sometimes on personality factors. I'm on the paranoid side (Ok, let's call it conservative side), and my docs seem to respect that and err on the side of more frequent. Congrats on being NED! That's what it's all about!

jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

It's been a year since my surgery and I haven't been told to have a colonoscopy yet. I don't have to have a CT for 6 mo. this time though I do go back for bloodwork.

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