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Cat is ned but CEA is going up

alta29's picture
Posts: 435
Joined: Mar 2005

Hi all ! My CT was NED :)))) but my CEA keeps on going uo since I was dx in Jan. It started at 1.4 then 2 now is 3...Nurse said that is common because the chemo irritates the colon and that could make the CEA goes up...Do I worry too much ???? I was a heavy smoker before all this started.Someone please cheer me up !!!!
Thanks !

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

My impression is that CEA while on chemo will not be stable and, in any case, 3 is quite acceptable. I think you have to wait until some time after chemo is finished before you will get the right CEA levels. They say for smokers even 5 is OK

Posts: 13
Joined: May 2005

My CEA climbed during chemo (folfox) and peaked 3 months after treatments at 3.8. My last test came back at 2.5 which was 6 weeks after the 3.8. Chemo is hard on us and everyone is different. If your ONC gets concerned, then worry, otherwise ride the wave. If you research CEA counts (I did because I was worried) you will probably determine that 10 is too high and that doctors look for a rising trend that is heading close to that number. When my CEA was at 3.8 the scans showed spots on my liver and liver counts outside of normal and a new mass near the original site. My Mayo doctor was not concerned but I was scared but as it turns out everything was benign and things are looking good. It's normal to sweat the details but don't panic and get used to going through this every few months. Good luck to you!

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Can you ask the nurse for the "within normal" ranges for CEA from their lab? My understanding is that the ranges can vary lab to lab, and the the within-normal range is higher for smokers. I am no expert in this, but '3' does not sound very high to me....
Great news on the NED (CT)!!

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Ok....I admit it ..I smoke!!.tsk!tsk! I am just over 12 months NED and my levels have risen from around 2 to 4 in the last 3 months. My doc. says that is reasonably normal as after finishing chemo the body takes time to stabilise. She also said that as I am a smoker around 4 is considered pretty normal. She just does not want the levels now to keep going up. In my situation she said that 7 or over would be cause for further investigation. Having said that, she also remarked that CEA levels differ in many patients that are still NED with the same cancer. Each individual is different due to lots of factors; weight, general health, smoker/non-smoker, male/female, or still on chemo.
While I was actually on chemo the levels were very erratic.
All tha best, kanga n Jen

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi, alta -

Do you still smoke? That will send your CEA up. Watch the CEA. It's a good indicator if something is going on, but it's also a common source of false positives and false negatives (my CEA was 0.5 when the cancer was raging!)

Bottom line; use the CEA as one of many tools - don't hang yor hat on it.

- SpongeBob

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