Could use some advice


My husband who is a healthy 39 was diagnosed with rectal cancer during a colonscopy because he was having constipation issues. They then did blood work that was fine and his CEA was 9 which the two different oncologists said means they might be able to use the marker to see how his treatment goes, but maybe not (very vague explanation). The did a scan and think they saw a 3mm node on his lungs, but decided to do a PET scan this past Sat becasue they dont know, but none the less its being treated as mets. He is supposed to start chemo-Folfox etc., on Wednesday. Then once the mets on his lungs improve, they want to take out the tumor. The rectal surgeon seems excited about this case because he claims that the tumor is in a good spot for a good outcome. One of the two oncologists said that they "might" cure him with resection but the other said it's easier to treat as chronic since most patients do fairly well with chemo and can usually work full time during treatment. My concerns are that 1. he seems very tired and 2. besides losing weight due to not eating for months due to his fear of consipation, he is actually at an ideal weight now 3. he is always cold-although he has always been like that since I have known him, but he is more cold than usual, but not once has he had a fever. Do you think that is normal-being tired and not really wanting to eat much? The dr. asked a million questions and tested him for what seemed like a billion things but everything according to her was "normal." I seriously thought that the tiredness would be indicative of something and same with the being cold. I feel like they could be missing something. Does anything else feel as though they were tired and/or not very hungry before starting treatment?


  • JanJan63
    JanJan63 Member Posts: 2,478 Member
    Hello and welcome! Okay, I'm

    Hello and welcome! Okay, I'm going to start with the CEA question. The CEA level is not an exact picture of what's going on in a cancer patient's body. It only shows up with a few cancers including colon and lung as well as a couple of others. The thing with it is that it can be very low yet there can still be cancer present or it can be high and there's no cancer present. Mine has been consistently low and has been .8 for almost a year and was only 1 before that. Those are normal levels for someone who has never had cancer. Yet I had lung mets during this time. I saw my surgeon last week and he suggested that I not bother getting the regular blood tests to check it because it apparently doesn't tell us anything and I'm being scanned in May anyway so that will tell us more. Tey must think your husband's CEA will tell them something.

    Did the PET scan tell them the lung mets are cancer or are the results not in yet but they're being treated as if they are? Or are they getting him set up for chemo just in case? I understand that the best way to get rid of cancer is with surgery to remove it and anything else is secondary. But it is a good idea to have something in addition such as chemo as it is a more widespread treatment and could clean up any cancer cells that have spread elsewhere.

    Regarding the losing weight, if he's eating less that makes sense. And eating less could really affect his fatigue and lack of energy. On the other hand I was asked by a few professionals at the beginning of my cancer tour of duty if I'd been tired before diagnosis. I was. But I'd also bought a business and was working my butt off and was there all the time. So how could I say? Yeah, I was tired but it seemed appropriate at the time.

    Being cold could stem from both eating poorly and being tired. I'm always cold when I'm tired. I would try not to worry that these things come from another issue. It's probably the cancer and will improve with treatment. It probably won't improve until a while after treatment, though.


  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,800 Member
    Cold and tired

    Both can be attributed to lack of nourishment. 

    I think we've all been there. Scared to eat, because it might constipate us, but truth is, NOT eating constipates us even more, as we are not getting the necessary fiber into our bodies, and our bowel shuts down. 

    My suggestion, which youh might already be doing, is get a notebook and keep a record of everything that he is eating. Pretty soon, he will learn what foods help him go to the bathroom easier. What foods make him go too much and what foods constipate him. But he does need to eat to ease the constipation. 

    A good, well balanced diet is alaways a good thing regardless of our health or lack of; but sadly, not all of us follow, inclding me.

    Welcome to the forum. Stick around and you will gain allot of information and help as you take this journey with your husband.