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CEA Level and # of liver mets/Need to Hear from Others

jcavanaugh
Posts: 100
Joined: Mar 2004

My dad has stage IV colon cancer (diagnosed 05/02) - multiple resections

*April 2006 - CT scan was normal, cea was 2.? - ct did show a few small spots (needed to be watched)
*June 2006 - cea rose to 5.?, had pet scan (clean scan) - went off of treatment

*September 30, 2006 - pet scan (multiple spots - not sure how many, cea 55)

*October 30, 2006 - cea 189 - started treatment avastin

*February 07 - cea 57 (no scans)

*March 07 - cea 59

*April 07 - cea 74

Doctor wants him to be off of treatment for 3 weeks, then a pet scan. Very worried. The highest my dad's cea had ever been before this point was 17 - pet scan showed 3 spots (only one turned out to be cancerous (during surgery). Is it possible that some of the spots were killed by the chemo and that some have shrunk even though his cea level has been on a rollercoaster ride? All advice/stories are welcome. Very nervous about pet scan results in May. Worried that not being on treatment will send the cea through the roof. Oncologist does not believe it has spread to the lungs (not likely after this much time - will probably remain contained in the liver). Has anyone else had a pet scan show something and then found out is was nothing during surgery? Thanks!!

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

J -

CEA is such a crap-shoot for diagnostic purposes. It's a good tool to indicate that the patient needs further studies, but I wouldn't really try to make any sort of direct correlation between the CEA numbers and specific state of disease.

A PET scan indicates uptake/metabolising of a marker chemical, something sort of like radioactive sugar. The most rapid uptake would occur in the cancer cells. The docs can use that info to discriminate between living cancer cells, dead cancer cells, and non-cancer cells. The CT only shows irregular cells - not whether or not they're alive. That's why the PET scan is the best test.

Keeping your dad and family on my prayers.

- SB

alta29's picture
alta29
Posts: 435
Joined: Mar 2005

Can he be on any kind of chemo meanwhile? I'm having surgery at the end of May..it will take that long because I was on Avastin and because of it the wounds will take more time to heal if surgey is done now....but that Dr. didn't want me to be without chemo for 6 weeks, so I go for the pump (5fu) every 2 weeks...the good thing is that there is no nauseas or vomiting..so its kinda break...

hopefulone
Posts: 1048
Joined: Jan 2007

Hi . Just a couple notes that I hope will help. CEA is only a small part of the puzzle and not a great marker for everyone. My husband's cea was less than 10 pre surgery and he had multiple liver mets at that time . Also, the onc told us that chemo sometimes actually causes cea levels to rise as it kills cells and causes rapid release and not to be too alarmed at this. Our onc is more concerned with results of scans than the cea levels at the present time. The onc also told us that if we ever get to a point where another PET is warranted( he is currently having ct's - they believe this to be the better option to determine tumor size /dimensions) he would need to be off chemo for 3 weeks prior to the PET also. So this seems to be keeping in line with protocol. It's important to remember that people can have the same dx however, but outcomes are not necessarily the same. Good luck and prayers for a clear PET . Waiting is always hard. I'm sorry you have to go thru it. God Bless.
Diane

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