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Brother done with Chemo..How long?

Posts: 10
Joined: Jan 2004

My brother (age 40)is stage 3 and has gone through 4 months of radiation and now 9 months of chemo. Has had colosomy bag for 9 months also and will keep it for awhile. His oncologist is now going to see him once a month to check his blood count. Is this enough? Will they be able to tell what's happening by just the blood count? How will we know when things might be getting worse before it's too late?

P.S. I went on this site nearly a year ago when my brother was first diagnosed. Many of you helped me through understanding things during difficult times. I appreciate the comments and have passed this site onto others who also feel the same. You're doing great things for so many.

P.S.S. There is a great book called My Grandfather's Blessings by Rachel Remen that was also a great help and perspective on life.

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

The blood tests will be used to monitor your brother's CEA levels and will be compared to previous tests. Has he had a PET scan done since he completed chemo/radiation? My husband had a CEA blood test and CT scan when he finished his chemo. The scan showed two spots on the liver but the CEA levels were good. Because of the spots on the liver, he had to have a PET scan, which showed they are not malignant. The oncology surgeon felt that because of the low CEA levels, that the spots were not a problem but did the PET scan to make sure. My husband is now to be tested for CEA levels in three months and, all being well, will get another PET scan in six months. We feel that if there were any changes, it will be soon enough to treat.

All the best to your brother...and to you of course.

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Also read Kitchen Table Wisdom - same author, Rachel Naomi Remen. It is a beautiful book with lots of wonderful short uplifting segments.

Best of luck to you. jana

Anonymous user (not verified)

Same with my husband diagnosed last July stage III. He has had repeated CEA and CT/PETS throughout his treatment because his CEA level while on treatment has continued to be above the normal limits, yet NED is found. He will have CEA monitoring every 8 weeks (September 16 being the first) and if still at 8.5 or lower, CT/PET in October followed by a CT/PET and CEA monitoring every three months thereafter. If CEA higher, CT/PET will be ordered immediately.

Again, Bert's CEA levels have been above normal and holding (dropping a little, rising a little) for a long time and doc seems to think something else (ie, the chemo) could be causing this...it's not common, but does happen.


kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hiya Jim--welcome back. Although I am stage 11 my doc. still orders bloods and ultrasounds every 2-3 months--in fact I have onecomin up shortly. I asked the same question about further tests and was told that as my cancer went thru the bowel wall there is a possibility of mets. elsewhere. The specialist mainly concentrates on my liver but other organs are looked at in the ultrasound.I get a little concerned that PETS/CT's are more accurate than ultrasounds but my specialist assures me they are only necessary if the CEA levels differ or the ultrasound picks something up.
It seems here in OZ CT/pets are not used as frequently--that concerns me.
I would certainly be concerned if they relied only on CEA levels tho--having said that I think your brother should do some more "enquiring" to his specialist.
cheers 4 now--our very best to your brother Jim
luv kanga n Jen

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi Jim,

I would be concerned if the onc *only* does the bloodwork with no follow-up CT/PET scans and colonoscopies.

My tumor did not give off CEA markers so for me the bloodwork was not used to watch for any activity as such. But all the other tests were. I see my onc every 6 months and he staggers the tests so in one visit I am not doing the whole battery every time. But over the year we cover them all.

So I would find out what the onc's plan of action is from here on out. Mine laid out the three year plan and the five year plan.

hope this helps.

peace, emily

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