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CEA - This is a good number, right?

Posts: 58
Joined: Dec 2006

Greetings Everyone!

I introduced myself several weeks ago.....and to refresh your memory I was mis-diagnosed, first told I had rectal for a brief few weeks, then told I had Ovarian and now the final answer is colorectal. So I lived by the CA 125, which is the ovarian tumor marker and that was elevated to 336, and normal is below 35, and now I am below 10, sothat is good.

Well my doctor just ordered my CEA and the results came back as .9 or 1.2, I need to clarify why I see two numbers, although one result was with fasting, but I was not fasting so they re-ran it, not sure I understand. BUT, either way the number is AWESOME, right?!

I was never terribly high to begin with, I need to check my records from May, the last time it was done, prior to the tumor coming out. The number for my CA125 and CEA I just gave you are both post tumor removal, the tumor is gone!

So when I went into surgery on October 2nd 2006 the tumor was removed, no other cancer, verfified by two petscans. Radical hystorectomy, rectal resection and vagina fistula closed. I was told margins were clear. 19 nodes came back ALL negative(they say radiation cleared them), and having my CEA at 1.2 and my CA125 normal. SO I am a stage 2 or 3, unclear becuase the nodes were zapped and they are unsure if they were involved before radiation. All of this leads me to my decision not to do the "mop-up" Chemo.

If I was Stage IV or III with nodes involved, I would be the first in line for Chemo.

And I have already gone through Chemo for the wrong cancer, no fun! It was Carboplatium and Taxol, 3 months worth and my tumor doubled, Lost ALL of my hair, everywhere! Then 6 weeks of raidation with 5FU, then into surgery.

I have an appointment on May 17th, 2006 to discuss Chemo with my oncologist. But I am feeling pretty good with my numbers and where I am at right now! I am actually pretty darn excited!

God Bless,


nudgie's picture
Posts: 1483
Joined: Sep 2006

It is GREAT to see such low numbers. I was DX in July 06 with Stage II, NO/MO colon cancer and had tumor removed in July 06. Did not have my CEA checked before surgery, because it was actually emergency surgery, so I don't know if it was high or not. But during chemo, I had it checked and it came back at 0.5. Last time checked was 17 Nov 06. Docs say that the CEA is just a marker and it depends on the individual if it is a good marker.

I am happy that you are doing sooo well.

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

We always like to have low tumor markers, however they can go up and down for reasons other than cancer. Some folks can have high markers and no cancer and vice versa.

Your decision to chemo is a pretty tough decision in my opinion. You are not sure if your lymph nodes were positive or not because of the radiation, so you could be stage 3, whereas most doctors would recommend chemotherapy. You were misdiagnosed and have been through hell - I would seek out a second opinion now that it is confirmed that you have colorectal cancer. The worrisome thing about having it in your lymph nodes is that it classifies this disease as systemic and miniscule cancer cells could still be there, but not yet visible.

Good luck with your decision. You will be in my thoughts.


lfondots63's picture
Posts: 822
Joined: Jan 2006

Hi Liz,

First the numbers you gave sound GREAT! Congrats! The CEA was a good marker for me. 64 when dx and 1.1 just the last time it was taken. Maybe you should ask the onc if the other chemo would have killed any nasties even though now you were told you have colon cancer. That is pretty much the only reason you would get chemo at this stage. Or maybe only do a few treatments and not the 12 that is recommended? I told my family that the chemo was an insurance policy and that is how I thought of it. Like the others said though, it is a very hard personal decision. We are all here to back you either way. Have you decided to also do some diet changes? That is always empowering since you are still fighting the beast to make sure it never comes back. HUGS.

Lisa F.

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

OK, This is what I would do for what it's worth....Those CEA numbers are excellent. I would personally just wait until your next checkup and see how things are going. If you are having a problem your CEA is likely to rise continually until it is out of the normal range (above 2.5-3). Otherwise something will show up on your scans. Just continue to go to your checkups and monitor things and if there is a need for chemo it will appear on your scans and you can have chemo then.
At least that is my feeling, as long as you continue to followup every 3 months with your doctors you should be fine. You will know if you have anything going on that would require further surgery or chemo. Although it is possible for someone to have a low CEA and also have cancer, like someone else had mentioned, it would show up on your scans if it was there - sooner or later and in my experience surgery is your best bet to get rid of it. Although, I would probably try to get in to your doctor a bit earlier than May like in March instead... and also make sure to get a CT scan (chest, ab, pelivs) and your CEA done again before your appointment.
Best wishes to you,

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

You have been through so much! Congratulations on getting through all this, including your previous chemo, the chemoradiation, and the surgery. Your CEA numbers are, indeed, very low. I don't want to put a damper on things. However, I am one of those people whose CEA was not elevated when I was diagnosed (with what turned out to be stage III rectal). This means that CEA is not a good marker for me, and I can never rely on it. If my CEA suddenly shot throught the roof, obviously that wd be a cause for alarm. However, just because my CEA is low doesn't mean no problem. Indeed, I have had two recurrences and my CEA was never elevated (I did have one positive node, even after chemoradiation). I don't want to take away from the joy of those low CEA numbers -- it IS good news. Just feel I needed to share my perspective and situation. Best wishes to you.

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

so happy you are finally having good results. I, like Tara, never had elevated CEA until this last July. I was diagnosed in 2002 with stage 3 (only 3 positve nodes) and have had multiple recurrances, without CEA rising.

What you need to do is get more information. If you get chemo shortly after surgery and pre-op chemo/radiation; it has cummulative effects to get any remaining microscopic cancer cell - if present. Talk to your doctors before may!!! There is no right or wrong answer; just make sure you feel good about whatever decision you make. Get more information!! :)

Enjoy the good news that you have now. I don't mean to bring you down... just want to share my story.

Stay well and strong. jana

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