What's your CEA?

well Member Posts: 26
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
For those here with colorectal cancer, you've probably heard the term "tumour marker" associated with "CEA" (carcinoembryonic antigen, a protein molecule that is sometimes considered indicative of how effective or not treatment may be.)

If it's not too personal to ask, what has your CEA level been, both at initial diagnosis, and at varying stages of your treatment?

Have you felt that a change in this value accurately reflects a change in your actual status?

For those with cancer for a while, how nervous do you get when it's time to draw blood to check your CEA level again?

(This is my first post here, I hope this is okay. If not, tell me, nicely, please.)


  • Betsydoglover
    Betsydoglover Member Posts: 1,248
    Welcome! CEA is not a good marker for everyone. I never got my CEA before colon surgery, but two weeks later, prior to any chemo, my CEA was 0.5 - about as low as it can get. Yet I have Stage IV cancer with one met to the liver.

    But for some cases it is apparently useful as one diagnostic tool only. As I understand it elevated CEA's do not always mean the cancer is getting worse.

  • kangatoo
    kangatoo Member Posts: 2,105
    Hiya well, from "down under" and welcome to our family. Nobody here is going to tell you it is "not ok". All are welcome here to post at any time and for any reason. I think that all would agree here that CEA testing is an "indicator" which can be very helpfull but having said that most doctors, oncologists and specialist usually tell us(they did with me) that tumour marker testing is just that..an indicator...but not necessarily a foolproof indicator of cancer activity. There are many CEA tests conducted, different ones for different forms of cancer. Ongoing blood tests for all of us are used in conjunction with all the other tests....CT'S, PETS, MRI'S, ULTRASOUNDS etc. etc. to assist with the detection of further cancers and/or as an indicator of how one is doing during/after treatment.
    Some here had little or no indication of disease in CEA testing even though the cancer was definately present.
    I would hesitate a guess that each individual is different but there are many whose CEA'S have altered dramatically throughout their battle.
    I am considered NED at this time. My levels as per Australian testing for the past 4 tests are.
    12/1/04 2/28/05 6/2/05 9/1/05
    CEA ug/L 1 1 <1 1
    CA-125 kU/L 14 9 9 11
    CA-19.9 6 4 5 6

    Tumour markers are of value in monitoring diagnosed malignancy. High blood levels may be due to any of a range of adinocarcinomas or to benign disease, including liver disease.

    CA-125 is also elevated in pathology, benign or malignant, involving the pluera or peritoneum. Very high levels may develop in patients with ascites.

    CA-19.9 is elevated in patients with extrahepatic biliary obstruction, benign or malignant.

    This is from my records taken by BAYER methods on the ACS analyser.
    Whether this is the same method as used in the states I do not know.
    In any case it may give you a bit of info.
    You may like to tell us a little more about yourself,
    cheers, kanga n Jen

    btw...I was unable to get my CEA results prior to surgery and chemo.
  • mwomack
    mwomack Member Posts: 78
    Husband Stage IIIc surgery 10/22/04

    CEA level on 10/21/04 - 4.3 (before surgery)
    CEA level on 11/04/04 - 1.7 (2 weeks after surgery)

    PET scan on 11/18/05 with a hypermetabolic left Iliac Lymph node w/4.7 SUV. Diagnosed as possible post-op inflammation with neoplasm in the "differential."

    CEA level on 6/6/05 - 2.2 (1 month after chemo)
    CEA level on 7/5/05 - 1.2

    Cat Scan on 7/5/05 NED

    CEA level on 9/8/06 - 2.4
    Onc. called and wants to recheck in 6 weeks as it had doubled. Said if it went up any more he would do a PET/CT scan.

    CEA level on 10/21/05 - 2.7 (found out Friday by calling the nurse so we have not heard from the Onc. In Sept. he called and left the re-check message on Monday after the results came back on Friday. We are expecting a message when we get home today)
  • melody36911
    melody36911 Member Posts: 12
    My dad has colon cancer and his CEA has been very high from the start. He was diagnosed Nov 04 and his pre-surgery CEA was 66. He had a resection done (8 lymph nodes were positive for cancer). One month post-op his CEA was 77. The doctors did not find any hot spots on his PET scan or anything suspicious on his CAT scans. He took 12 weeks of chemo (Oxiplatin, Leuvocorin, 5FU). His CEA was 88 after this chemo cycle. More scans, x-rays, colonosopy, trips to Mayo Clinic and nothing was found. His CEA climbed even further to around 197. He went on a new chemo regimin which consisted of Leuvocorin, CPT-11, and Avastin. His CEA has been checked about every 6 weeks or so and has been dropping slowly but steadily to 178, then 166, and then to about 150. We are waiting for the results of his latest blood test now. Hopefully, when we get them on Wednesday, it will have dropped more. It is all a waiting game. You get good results and feel good for a few days, and then you start worrying about the next one. I feel that my Dad's CEA is too high to say that it is not relevant to his cancer. If it was 5 or even 10 maybe it would not be so worrisome. I really wish that we could find out where the cancer is so that more could be done. What are you levels like, if you do not mind me asking?
  • taraHK
    taraHK Member Posts: 1,952
    Hello. You are welcome here. Any question or comment is OK on this board.

    I was diagnosed with rectal cancer about 2.5 years ago. I am one of those people whose CEA was never elevated, even at diagnosis.

    I continue to have relatively regular CEA tests. My feeling (and that of my doctors) is that if it stays low/normal, I don't know anything (that is, I could have a recurrence/something nasty) BUT if it rises, it would be an indication for further testing.

    My understanding is that CEA is not a terrific marker -- gives both false positives and false negatives. I personally would regard a rising CEA only as an indication that further investigations would be necessary. I have the test pretty regularly and don't get particularly stressed about it (not that I am some sort of hero -- you should see me when I go in for CT scan - a wreck).

    Good luck to you and please keep in touch.

  • CAMaura
    CAMaura Member Posts: 719
    Hi there - Well, I am one of the lucky ones (I hope!). My body reacts predictably for the CEA tumor marker. It was 12.8 when a tumor was present; it has remained under 2.0 (range is 0.0 - 3.0 for normal) after surgery and now after chemo. I'll be checked again in December.....keeping my fingers crossed. My Gastro doc mentioned that if it works well from the start, then it continues to. I have heard that smoking affects it; maybe other things do as well. All the best to you - Maura
  • optimist
    optimist Member Posts: 51
    My CEA has been helped me predict when I have had a recurrence during my four and a half years of this battle. It has ranged from under .5 to 45 right before my colon surgery. When I had liver mets originally, it went up to 12. After, I had them removed, it was back to under .5. After the liver surgery, my CEA rose from .5 to 9. The scan at that point showed enlarged lymph nodes in my peritoneum. My levels went to 17 and chemo stabilized it to 11, but I had 4 new mets to my liver. I had a two week break from chemo, and it went to 22. Now, I'm on erbitux and camptosar and hoping for the best. Getting chemo and CEA checked today.
  • HisJoy
    HisJoy Member Posts: 113
    Hi and welcome to the boards.

    2 weeks after surgery to remove my tumour, my CEA was 14. (we didn't take it before, as I didn't know I had cancer until I showed up at the ER and they did the surgery pretty quickly). After my first 4 months of chemo (FOLFOX with Avastin), my CEA dropped to .8, which is totally normal. I get another CEA test on Monday, so we'll see what's happening now. I had a new nodule at the last CT scan and I'm a bit anxious to see if the CEA is elevated, which will make me think the nodule is malignant. I JUST had my dx and surgery in January and JUST finished my FOLFOX treatment in Sept, so having another nodule is NOT a good thing.

    Visit us again frequently!