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Question about CEA

Sam725
Posts: 87
Joined: Nov 2006

Okay my husband had his 6 month check up since his last surgery in July. His original surgery was Nov. of 06. His CEA was 1.1 pre and post surgery, his last CEA in Dec. 07 was .06, he finished his chemo in June of 07.. Will find out the lastest one next week. Do you think the CEA numbers are a good marker for him. I know some of you have levels in the hundreds so I don't know if we should use these. Any opinions would do me good! Thanks
Sandy

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Sandy, from what I understand, the Tumour Marker blood test which measures CEA levels is just one tool that help doctors keep tabs on what is going on. The "norm" for everyone varies so much and so many things can affect it that each person's CEA levels really become an individual thing.

My levels of CEA during chemo hovered around the 0.0 level or slightly below. I finished my chemo at the end of October. In December my CEA was 6.0. My oncologist told me not to worry because it's not uncommon to have a false positive or other factors could cause it to rise. So we did the test again at the beginning of Feb and it is an 18.0. Because it is rising rather than just remaining the same, I am going for a PET scan next week. It may not mean anything, but rather than leave it, they now will use other monitoring tools, such as a PET scan. It may turn out that my "norm" is between 0 - 25... then again, it may mean there's something happening.

So your husband's norm could be below 0, then again, it could be slightly above. Others have much higher readings as their "norm" and it doesn't mean they are in any danger just because their reading is so much higher. Once you know your norm, the doctors will question when it becomes higher than normal for you (in your case, your husband).

I hope this helps somewhat. CEA levels are just one tool the oncologists use for monitoring, but it is not the be all and end all when watching your systems :)

Cheryl

claud1951's picture
claud1951
Posts: 429
Joined: Jun 2007

Hi Sandy,

My CEA levels were always low, before, during and after chemo. (I was Stage 3) Like Cheryl said, we are all different. Unless they would spike so high I'm not certain about using them for a markers.

I'm wishing him continued success!
Claudia

shmurciakova's picture
shmurciakova
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hi Sandy,
For many people CEA is a good marker even if it has always been quite low. The deal is that they are looking for a steadily rising CEA, which would indicate a problem. I would say as long as his CEA remains the same or isn't steadily increasing then it is all good. People with CEA numbers in the hundreds probably have fairly extensive cancer, or a large tumor that is putting off a lot of CEA. For me, normal is 0.5 or less. I am amazed that your lab goes down to hundreths of a percent! Mine only says "less than 0.5" and I know at MD Anderson they only go down to 1.0! So, your husbands CEA of .06 is exceedingly low.
I hope that helps,
Susan H.

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