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some good news

Posts: 372
Joined: Aug 2006

I got a call from my onc who said my CEA had dropped after surgery from 14.6 to 2.1. I had surgery 17 days ago and found out I am stage 3B again with 3 nodes involved. I didn't see this as such great news since wouldn't one expect your CEA to drop after the primary tumor and three cancerous nodes out of 60 were removed? I have to start Folfox soon for six months and I am confused by this. I had bad hand and foot syndrome and fatique but nothing else four years ago with Xeloda. I assumed that my Onc was putting on Folfox because of those past problems with Xeloda. But I read that Folfox may cause hand and foot as well with many more side effects. Plus I will need a port and I am concerned about clots. I had a big clot in my leg a year ago and it was a problem but none since. Good News...I don't know!

Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2009

to be flushed more often and may move about. After port stopped working, I needed two piccs for my FOLFOX.......steve

CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Anytime CEA that has risen and more cancer has been found, when it falls after surgery, or chemo or any kind of treatment IS good news. One would HOPE that it would fall, after all, it's the CEA that let the oncologist/surgeon know that there was possible active cancer by the fact that it went up. Removing it and having the CEA go down, then this is a good thing.... because if the CEA had remained up after surgery, it would mean there is MORE cancer than they had already found. And now you'd have to go through many more scans/tests to try and find where it is.

The Xeloda is basically the oral form of 5FU. Folfox is the 5FU + Oxypilatin and there may be something else in that combo as well. The side affects you get with the chemo that you take orally (Xeloda) may not be at all the same as the side affects you may or may not get when getting it by infusion. And the decision as to which chemo you should be given is not necessarily based on the side affects you experienced... but more on what is going to give you the best chance to fight this beast. You say you are 3B, which to me means that they are going to fight it as aggressively as they can to aim for a "cure"... whereas when you are a Stage IV, it no longer is aggressively treated for a cure, but more as a way of keeping it all under control.

If I were in your shoes, I would be ecstatic that 1) the CEA is not indicating there is more cancer that you have to be worried about and 2) that your Oncologist is still treating your cancer very aggressively because there's reason to hope that it still can be treated for a cure.

And just as a side note... it is pretty standard treatment to use FOLFOX after surgery... and sometimes even before surgery.


Kathryn_in_MN's picture
Posts: 1258
Joined: Sep 2009

That is great news! It means they most likely got all active cancer out!

FOLFOX is hard, but it gives the best chance of winning.

As for blood clots, I had a PE last winter on FOLFOX, and had to go on Coumadin, taking between 5mg and 10mg per day as they monitored my INR. I've been off it since June before I got my port out. Now that I have my new port I am on theraputic Coumadin - just 1mg per day to try and make sure my INR doesn't drop too low. You might want to ask about that.

The hand/foot from Xeloda is usually at a very much higher level of troubles than 5-FU. But the oxaliplatin carries its own side effects with the cold sensitivities, jaw spasms, and neuropathy. But you want to make sure this doesn't recur again. FOLFOX is your best bet.

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