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Rising CEA

alihamilton's picture
alihamilton
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

I wonder if any of you had rising CEA (not while on chemo) and yet CT scan shows nothing? My husband's last CEA was 3.3 and is now 3.5. The CT scan shows no change in two lesions on the liver which were seen on CT scan nearly two years ago. Pet scan showed they were not malignant. I have read that a slowly rising CEA suggests local recurrence (rectal) but the scan is showing no signs of that and the oncologists are not concerned at all. I am the only one freaking out!(though I have not conveyed my concern to my husband. He has had no treatment for nearly two years and is doing so well having been dx Stage 111C rectal cancer in July 2003 and having had several setbacks during treatment.

Thanks for any comments.

Ali

mwomack
Posts: 78
Joined: Jan 2005

My husband Stage IIIc Sigmoid colon 10/04 with chemo ending 05/05. In July his CEA was 1.2, Sept. 2.4, Oct. 2.7, Dec. 3.6, Jan. 5.5.

They did a CT scan in Dec. and it showed some reactive inguinal nodes, and "fat injection" around the prostate/seminal vesicles. In Jan. they did a PET/CT and it showed a mass in the presacral space. They went back to the Dec. scan and found the mass although it was a little smaller then.

My husband is having surgery tomorrow. They will start out with an exploratory laparoscopy and then open him up if they do not find anything else. They really don't know what they will be doing until they do the laparoscopy and see exactly where it is. Anything below where he was put back together previously is "no man's land" according to the surgeon.

Has he just had the 2 CEA's recently? My husband was having them every 6 weeks since September. Is he a smoker? My husband's onc. initial concern was that it had doubled from July to Sept. even though it was still normal.

MA

alihamilton's picture
alihamilton
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

Thanks for the quick response. I do hope your husband's surgery goes well.

My husband's CEA has gone up much more slowly. In July 2004, a year after surgery, it was 3.1, then three months later it was the same, then another 3 months later it was 2.9.and then 2.6. Six months later it had gone up to 3.3 and now, three months later, it is 3.5. We will speak to his oncologist next week but I understand that if there is nothing on the CT scan, there is not much they can do. No, he is not a smoker.

All the best to you and your husband. Do keep us posted on the findings and what treatment they are recommending.

Ali

mwomack
Posts: 78
Joined: Jan 2005

I know it is so easy to tell someone not to worry, but easy for them to say. My husband's onc. did tell us on the 2.4 to 2.7 rise that a rise that small could be in the handling of the sample. Has his CEA ever gone below the 3.0 range. My husband's was 4.3 at diagnosis and dropped to 1.7 about 2 weeks after surgery. The way they explained is the pre-surgery level kinda gives them an idea as to what to look at and what his body might do as far as CEA.

Just keep a watch as we were told that one number did not mean that much, it was a slow, steady rise they would be watching for. Slow, steady for local recurrence, and numbers closer to 10 or more for liver.

MA

andyc56
Posts: 42
Joined: Oct 2004

Ali, seems to me a 0.2 increase in CEA is perhaps statistically meaningless? I would think you could get similar variability from one day to the next. Good luck with your husband's surgery. Keep us posted.

lg2cyg
Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2003

Ali,
See my post dated 02-12-2006. My CEA markers are now at 1100 (yes one-thousand one-hundred) and it's just driving me crazy. My oncologist want's me back on chemo to bring the numbers down and I think it will work temporarily but they will go back up again. I also think it will cause other unseen tumors to show up then I will have more problems. Chemo has been very difficult for me, I really get sick. Take a look at my post dated 02-12-2006. I don't know what to do at this time to go back on chemo or not. I have put all this in God's hands it's up to him now.

Louis

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Ali -

I know it's scarry, BUT, please remember that CEA is just one part of the big picture - it's not a discreet diagnostic tool. I am often here telling folks how CEA can be a very poor indicator and how widely the numbers can swing. I had a doctor once who drew two different vials of blood from the same patient, on the same day, and sent them to two different labs. The results were more than 1.0 different from one another. There are SO many variables that can influence CEA - don't get too worried about it; just use it as a tool to delve deeper and see if there is a cause. Robust surveillance is imperative and it sounds like you're doing precisely that.

Be well.

- SpongeBob

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