CEA counts

msccolon Member Posts: 1,917 Member
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
I completed my chemo in April. Had my follow up colonoscopy (my tumor had been too large to complete the initial colonoscopy in August of 2004), it was clear. I went in for routine blood work and my CEA count came back at 17. We retested my blood and a week later it had jumped to 21.9. I am now scheduled for a PET on the 15th. I asked my doc what my CEA count had been when i was first diagnosed and he said it was 1.6. Can't be good, huh? Any thoughts on CEA counts? I know that they aren't particularly reliable as yea/nay indicators, but apparently when the counts get this high it's not good news.


  • alihamilton
    alihamilton Member Posts: 347 Member
    Well, those numbers don't sound so good, but if on diagnosis your CEA was only 1.6 (when you would expect it to be at its highest) then maybe this test is not a reliable tool for you at all. The PET will be more informative and I hope everything goes well with that result.

  • taraHK
    taraHK Member Posts: 1,952 Member
    I agree with Ali. My understanding is that CEA is not a terribly reliable test. Obviously a rising CEA is of some concern -- and further testing is recommended. This is just what you are doing -- the right thing. The PET should give you more reliable information. Best of luck with that and please keep us posted.
  • glimmerofhope
    glimmerofhope Member Posts: 53 Member
    I'm guessing that you had a colon resection before the chemo. Is that correct?

    You can have a low CEA and still have metastatic colon cancer. I am friends with a lady that had colon cancer that had spread to her liver. The colon surgeon estimated that she had had the cancer for 10 years! Yet her CEA was NEVER elevated. She had a colon and liver resection and chemo and is now more than 5 years with no evidence of cancer.

    I could be wrong, but I believe that her cancer spread from the outside of her colon pressing against the liver and not through her blood.

    I have colon cancer that has spread to my liver and both lungs. I had a CEA test done as soon as I found out I had colon cancer. The doctor told me: "Your CEA is five eighty-six." (I knew that for a non-smoker, anything over 3 was considered elevated.) I said " Wow.. 5.86, that's pretty high isn't it?" The doctor then replied. "No. Your CEA is Five HUNDRED and eighty six!"

    After I had the colon surgery, my CEA went down to 300. Then after having literally half of my liver cut out and chemo it dropped to .8 about 18 months ago.

    I'm currently at 4.0, (probably lower since I haven't checked it in about 4 months and I have been taking Avastin, 5FU and ammonium tetrathiomolybdate that has definitely beat it back to some extent.)

    Everyone is different, but CEA has been a pretty accurate marker for me. There are several things that can show falsely high CEA's, such as smoking and chemo.

    Unfortunately, since it's been about 8 months since you've had chemo, the chemo is probably not making it read high.

    I think you are doing the right thing by doing the PET test that is 90% accurate versus a CAT scan that is only 40% accurate and shows a lot of "indications" that aren't cancer.

    Don't despair over the CEA of 21.9. My CEA was 589 almost three years ago and while I have been through the ringer....I'm not only still alive, but I feel almost normal, most of the time, even while I am currently doing chemo.

    Good luck,