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CEA Tests

Posts: 100
Joined: Mar 2004

My dad was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in May 2002. He had part of his colon removed and one spot removed from his liver. He began chemo in August 2002. He finished his treatment in September 2003. He has had clean pet and cat scans since his operation. Every month, his doctor monitors his CEA. In December 2003, his blood levels were perfect and he had a clean pet scan. In January, his CEA level was fine. All of a sudden, in February, his CEA level increased slightly according to his doctor. Now, his doctor wants the blood test every two weeks instead of once a month. My dad was scheduled for a cat scan before the increase in his CEA level. He had the cat scan on March 1 and will have his next blood test on March 5. We will get the results on March 12. I believe his CEA level is 4. I also believe that even before his first surgery (May 2002) his CEA was 3.? I do not know the numbers after that. Is this something I should worry about? Has this happened to anyone else??

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

jcavanaugh -

CEA test results can vary widely and are not a conclusive test. They are used to determine if more tests may be necessary. I know of instances where the results of CEA tests done on the same subject, drawn the same day, and sent to different labs came back with wildly differing results. Hang in there and work with your dad's doctor to secure more difinitive tests and go from there. Don't let the results of a CEA make you crazy.

Is your dad a member of the semi-colons? If not, you should encourage him to join us here. We're a pretty upbeat and fun group - and since it's all done in cyberspace nobody even notices our flatulance!


- SpongeBob

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2004

How do I become a member of the semi-colons?

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

a CEA rise over several months, although slight, motivated my Onc to do a CT, which found over 20 lung mets. The total increase was less than a point,something like 2.8 to 3.5
I have also read somewhere that CEA readings are not always a reliable indicator, depending upon whether levels were elevated prior to surgery or not. I have also read about various people on this forum with CEA levels in double digits, hopefully
you will receive a more definitive answer from one
of these folks. You might also use the search function to search CEA. Bud

Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2004

You can't get tto worked up about small CEA changes. I once had my oncologist all worried because my CEA went up from 2.3 to 2.8 almost a year after treatment. However, after CT and follow up, he concluded that my colonoscopy the day before the bloodwork was the likely reason for the small jump in CEA. I've now made 5 years, and my CEA is always a little different each exam. Doctors are extra cautious, and that's good. But stay sane...the number that you are talking about are all on the low, and likely, healthy side!

Posts: 86
Joined: Dec 2002

hello jcavanagh,
Sorry to hear about your father's illness. Let me know what age he is. I'm 66 and had Dukes stage 3 (or "C") operated in July 2001 plus 6 months of chemo. CEA under 4 is usually thought to be normal but this is a bit of a variable. My CEA ranged fron 3.3 to 3.9 and the suddenly went to 4.8. Three months later it was back at 4.3. My oncologist said he would not worry unless it was at 10.0 or over or showing continuing increases. I don't know what it was before surgery. Presumably it was a bit raised if one has colon cancer in the first place. I also took his advice and did not get it checked again until a further six months had passed and I will know that result next week. My scan 6 months ago was normal. I think that if the CEA had been raised they would not have known what exactly to do anyway, since the scan was clear.
Curiously, my name is also Cavanagh (without the "u"). Maybe we are related.There is no family history of Ca. Colon in my family as far as I could discover. Would you like me to send you the website of the Cavanagh (Kavanagh)Clan ? Blessings to your father. Tell him this is from Ireland. That might brighten his day a bit.

mrslacsr's picture
Posts: 30
Joined: Apr 2002

I was dignosed in January 2002 and everything was find. About 9 months ago they found two spots on my liver and three months ago it was two on the liver and two on the lungs. My CEA level was find until a month and a half ago and it started going up just slightly. I am a little nervous because I don't know what to expect. Can anyone give me any input?

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