cancer stage & cea level --any correlation? (newbie question)

Hey all, 

I just had a colonoscopy on Thursday... which found a "rather large" tumor.  My GI said right away he was sure it was cancer.  Only trouble is... now its the weekend, doctors are out, but lab results are coming in (through MyChart).  I saw my CEA level was 18.2.... Is there any correlation to what stage cancer that might be?  I know I need more tests to know for sure... just curious.




  • suzycruise76
    suzycruise76 Member Posts: 162 Member
    Hi and welcome,

    Hi and welcome,trustingloving! I am sure that you will get a lot responses from people,who are more experienced than I. I am sort of new here as well,and getting still oriented in this new situation. In my opinion the CEA level can tell,that there is probably cancer present,but cannot tell the stage. The stage can estimate your surgeon or oncolog,but definitely they will know after the surgery,when they see the tumot and nods taken out as well.

    I have rectosigmoid colon cancer estimated as stage 3,and my CEA level was 4,7 before my treatment.I just finished 25 days of chemo radiation and now I am waiting for CT scan,MRI and my doctors' team decision when i get the surgery.

    Try to be calm through the weekend and wait for your dr's call. All the best,


  • Erica2016
    Erica2016 Member Posts: 41 Member
    edited April 2019 #3

    Hello trusting love! I agree with Suzy pathology will determine stage when they see the tumor and lymph nodes. My CEA level never increased during my rectal cancer, but it spiked very resently as an indication that it has returned. Try to keep calm and here is hoping for the best!

  • Annabelle41415
    Annabelle41415 Member Posts: 6,729 Member

    There is no way a CEA test can show what stage it is.  Mine was always normal through active treatment so it wasn't even accurate for me.  The most reliable test for showing the stage is first a CT scan and/or surgery.  Until then it is just waiting for the doctor to give you more conclusive information.  I'm sorry that you have to be here and welcome to a board that can help you get through all that needs to happen going forward.  Wishing you well.


  • Lily Flower
    Lily Flower Member Posts: 256 Member

    Welcome Trustingloving! This is a place where no one wants to join but we all end up love everyone here. There's no correlation between stage and CEA level. Your GI will set you up for a CT scan for the abdominal area next week to determine if the cancer has spread to your surrounding organs, especially liver. He might even set up amother CT scan for your chest area to see if it has spread to your lungs. If it has then you will be at stage 4. If not, then stages 1-3 will be determined after your surgery from your pathology report depending how many lymph nodes and nearby tissues are effected. I know easier said than done but try to relax this weekend until you speak to your GI next week and of course we all wish you the best. 

  • JanJan63
    JanJan63 Member Posts: 2,478 Member
    I agree with LilyFlower. The

    I agree with LilyFlower. The CEA means very little. When I had my forst initial tumour in my colon mine was normal and stayed that way for a long time. Now that I have mets it goes up and down. I think it's more of a marker for changes than for how bad the cancer is. I've heard that things like inflammation can make it go up, too. And I was told that for a smoker it can be as high as something like 13 and still be normal.

    Best of luck!


  • SandiaBuddy
    SandiaBuddy Member Posts: 1,358 Member

    There is probably no definitive staging of cancer until after surgery.  It is hard to pre-guess what will happen.  One member went through all sorts of worrying and turned out ot be a a Stage1.  Others fare differently.  If I were in your shoes I would focus on getting physically and emotionally ready for surgery and to not worry too much about guessing about the other issues.  Sorry you are here, but I hope you will find yourself in helpful company.