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CEA Level/# of Tumors/Advice

Posts: 100
Joined: Mar 2004

*Stage IV diagnosed in May 2002

October 2005 - major suregery at Johns Hopkins - removed half of liver (biopsied two spots that lite up on pet scan - both benign) + ablated one spot - began treatment (erbitrux)

November 2006 - clean pet scan (normal cea level) - always been below 10 (for the most part - peaked at 17 before October surgery)

April 2006 - CT Scan - clean (did mention a few very small hyperdensities throughout the liver - largest one measuring 1cm) - oncologist said that he would watch this but was not concerned because CEA level was low

June 2006 - CEA doubled (now 5.8)- oncologist ordered pet scan (clean scan) - parents are retiring and moving - oncologist feels my dad can stop treament (so he stopped)

September 2006 - pet scan (not clean - mulitple spots, colon lite up (colonoscopy - negative)and cea increased from 3.9 to 55.1

October 2006 - started chemo (folfox with avastin) - cean checked prior to first treatment (now 186)

November 2006 - after 4 weeks of treatment (folfox with avastin) - cea level is 180 - new oncologist (Williamsburg, VA) is encouraged and mentioning radiofrequency ablatioin down the road and switching to just avastin once the cea reaches 50, he also told my parents that at this point the cancer will not spread beyond the liver.

*Surgeon at Johns Hopkins wants a new pet scan at end of second cycle

Questions - Is there any correlation between cea level and # of tumors? Can chemotherapy kill tumors and make them disappear forever? Has anyone heard similar information from their oncologist?

I am asking because we are used to an oncologist who was always full of doom and gloom (very honest). I question is this new oncologist is up front with us. I felt that best place to go for help is this site. Thanks!!

Monicaemilia's picture
Posts: 455
Joined: Nov 2006

Hi J: I was supposed to have liver surgery when the latest c-scan showed two little spots on my lungs (less than 1 cm each). As they cannot tell 100% that is cancer, and they are too small to biopsy, my oncologist told me that we would take a look at the next CEA results to give us an indication of movement. At the same time, she also told me once that CEA results are not always accurate, so I do believe that my oncologist just uses it as a benchmark. Although the CEA results went down only slightly, I would take heart in knowing that it did go down, not up. As for the 'positive' oncologist, and speaking from someone going through Stage IV cancer just as your dad, I would rather have someone give me hope and not one who has me planning my funeral every time I visit. The new oncologist seems to have some options for your father, which I think is a good thing. Of course, I am a little confused about the fact that he said the cancer should not go past the liver. I never heard that, but it doesn't mean it is not true. Next time I see my oncologist, if my chemo brain allows, I will ask for you. It won't be for a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, keep strong for yourself and your dad.

Posts: 166
Joined: Jul 2005

I also never heard about the cancer not going past the liver. Did the doctor say why he thought this? I know of people whose cancer has spread past the liver but maybe doctors can predict when cancer that will stay in the liver only.
Good Luck,

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