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Pet Scan, CEA leve, and recent surgery

Posts: 100
Joined: Mar 2004

Looking for someone with a similar experience. Background - My dad was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in May 2002. He had two surgeries one in May to remove cancer from his colon and one in July to remove a spot on his liver. He had one full year of chemo (campostar). He was in remission until Feb. 2004 when they found two spots on his liver. They thought that the cancer might also be back in his colon but the surgeon found no evidence of it. His surgery was in April 2004. About 5 weeks from the date of surgery, his oncologist ordered a pet scan. Pet scan showed some spots on liver and one below liver (colon was reconnected during the surgery). Also his CEA level had increased to 4. By the way, his CEA level was about 9 before his surgery. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get back on a chemo until recently because of two eye surgeries. Last Friday, his oncologist informed him that his CEA was now a 6. My Questions: Isn't it true that recent surgery can alter PET scan results (produce false positives)? and Isn't it true that the purpose of CEA tests for some is to catch it early and operate? My dad had radiofrequency abrasion on one of his spots during his April surgery and it was successful. I think that they missed a spot during the surgery and the lack of chemo for two months has caught up with him. Any thoughts??

ron50's picture
Posts: 1729
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Cav,
Sorry to hear Dads not been well we used to chat a while back. Whilst not the same but similar ,my chemo friend Tom had similar experiences, they kept telling him that cea was a useful but inaccurate diagnostic tool but in his case it was highly accurate and every time it rose it did in fact predict another complication, Tom's main problem was his age ,his immune system was severely tested just contending with the constant surgical recoveries and it didn't have the resources to combat the ca. I know that your dad is a fighter from way back so don't give up if anyone can overcome ca it is him ,give him my kindest regards and my best wishes to both of you ,Ron.

Posts: 120
Joined: Apr 2004

Not sure I can help. My husband is stage IV and his CEA was 29 before his tumor was removed back in 10/03. At the time of surgery they knew that he had two small suspicious spots on liver. He just had them removed. He had 8 treatments before his surgery, and will now have 8 treatments after his liver surgery.
As far as the Pet Scans I do know that they can be false/positive. He had a Pet Scan before his liver surgery that showed the dye went to two areas - lymph near liver and kidney areas. They did not know if cancer had spread. His CEA was a normal level.
So we were told that probes that detect cancer would be insereted into areas to see if they were cancer. Thank-God everything came out clean. It was swelling.
As far as CEA levels they are not always accurate.
Our oncologist told us somthing as simple as starting to drink a lot of green tea (not that its bad too) can make a CEA level go high and it won't mean cancer.
Also after sugery if any cancer was stirred up that can make your CEA higher. That is why my husband is having chemo as a preventive method of the cancer not coming back and hopefully killing off any small micro out in the system.
Hope this helps.

Kanort's picture
Posts: 1275
Joined: Jan 2004

I'm sorry but I don't have any information to add about CEA levels. My levels have always been normal even though I had a cancerous polyp and three out of 31 lymph nodes positive.

Please know that you and your dad are in our thoughts and prayers.



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