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Rising CEA

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

My husband, dx July 2003 stage 111C rectal cancer and doing well has had CEA levels of 3.1, 2.9 and 2.6 and considered acceptable. His oncologist told us that levels can "wobble around " a bit. Now it is 3.3 and he is still being told that this is OK and that he should have another one early January to make sure this is not a trend. He will also be due a CT scan soon after that.

What do you all think, please? We will be seeing the oncologist in a day or two but wondered about forum members' opinions.

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I'm not a doc, so this isn't a professional opinion, but my impression is that 3.3 is probably within the "wobble" range. Has your doc given you information on the normal range? I understand this can vary lab to lab, and also for smokers vs. nonsmokers -- might be useful to get that information. And perhaps to ask your doctor when s/he might be alarmed (for example, if it gets above x). Best of luck with your appt.

scouty's picture
Posts: 1976
Joined: Apr 2004

Hi Ali,

My CEA is also in the wobbly range as you and Tara (hi honey) call it. My oncologists says infections, surgery, smoking and they suspect some foods can impact it. His exact words were until it gets to around 7 or 8, you should not be overly concerned. I go back for scans and blood work again mid February.

That all being said, yes it does sit in the back of my mind, so I have just gotten more diligent about my diet, exercise, rest, laughing, relazing, and enjoying life. My juicer took a break some recently but it's motor is warm all the time again.

Lisa P.

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

Hi Ali,

Yes, my CEA is in the wobble range too. We are just watching it each month, also I am currently on Xeloda. We are trying to get it back down in the comfort zone. However, my personal comfort zone is 0!!!

Let us know how the CT scan comes out. Happy holidays.


Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

I think we are all anxious with every test and all want low CEA s. Perhaps they could do a pet/cat scan.

keep us posted


kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi Ali. "Wobbling about" seems to be a common bond between your docs and ours in oz! lol! I have never really got a straight answer but by my docs reckoning anything under 7 is acceptable.
On the other hand I am curious as to just how similar all the blood tests are between countries or if it is a standard thing for all no matter where you live. Having said that the following is a part of the readout I get from my pathology mob here.
CEA ug/L 1 ( CA 125 kU/l 11 ( CA 19.9 kU/L 6 (

They were my last readings supplied by our institute of medical science unit(IMVS) using the BAYER METHOD on a ACS analyser.

I am REAL curious if methods are similar or do all these figures/methods differ around the world?
huggs, Ross n Jen

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

That is interesting as it appears that the Bayer method just indicates the CEA under (or over) 10, rather than an exact figure. I found an old lab report of Mike's CEA levels last year and it states 3.1 but that this particular lab considers the range to be between 0 and 3.0, thus giving him a "high" result. But I also hear that anything under 5 is fine and between 5 and 10 would indicate the possiblity, but no certainty of recurrence or malignancy.

Also when we had to go to Miami for a PET scan to investigate two lesions on the liver, the specialist there said he did not expect them to be malignant as the CEA was "so low"....3.1. He was right.

No wonder we all find CEA results confusing! I would have just preferred it had not gone up at all! I also read that if a CEA rises, it is usually about 6 months before there is any clinical evidence of disease. I presume this would not apply if there was a huge increase or if there were other symptoms. Sometimes I think we know too much for our own comfort!

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