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CEA levels - what is normal

Posts: 512
Joined: Nov 2007

I know that on the web it says that CEA levels of 2.5 for non-smokers and 5.0 for smokers are considered normal. It also mentioned that there are a few different ways to measure cea levels. My CEA is 3.4 - I live in Boston and go to Mass General - I was stage 3. I just had it done. My doctor said that anything below 3.7 (at MGH, apparently) is considered normal. I have never smoked and apparently mine has been around 3 for quite some time. I am currently NED. I had never thought about this, but all of you with CEA's of .5, etc. This is making me a little nervous. Any insights? Anyone else have a "normal" for them CEA that is a little higher?

Posts: 119
Joined: Jan 2007

I've read so much here about CEA levels. I had my post treatment checkup in March and CEA levels were done. I did ask my oncologist what the norm was and how the levels were rated. He said they are really used more for stage 4, or as he put it "more advanced" cancer. I've been diagnosed as stage III and mine were 4.5 at my end of treatment testings. I'm not going to stress over them, I have to choose what makes me anxious, sort of like "pick your battles".

Posts: 512
Joined: Nov 2007

thank you, I think I will take a page from your book. I hope you are doing well. How do you feel? please feel free to e-mail me one on one if you would like to talk. I really appreciate the response.


impactzone's picture
Posts: 504
Joined: Aug 2006

Biologically CEA is not a marker that can be used for populations but for some individuals there is a relationship between CEA levels and cancer expression. CEA levels rise with pregnancy and estrogen levels and smoking. It may work for you, mine went to 17 (stage 4) but drops to below 1 right now so there is a possible relationship in my case. My onc at Stanford just looks at performance over time.

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hey, you know what I just found out? Apparently your CEA does not rise during pregnancy because it does not get outside of the placenta. I didn't know that but I am hoping to have a child at some point soon, so I started reading up on it and apparently it can't cross the "placental boundary", which does not really make sense to me, does it make sense to you?

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

An elevated CEA is just one part of the puzzle with CC, I think. DH has seen his numbers swing between 202 and 28 over the last few months. He is Stage 4 and currently CEA is at 34. The doc said that he also considers all the blood work results, not just CEA. Since DH has mets to the liver, the blood work is very important. In our case (not to scare anyone) doc said that CEA could drop but tumor still be growing. Something about a clone tumor. However, since DH has good blood work numbers, he tends to think that the CEA level is still an indicator for turmor growth/reduction. On Dec 31 the number was 202 so we are pleased to know it is now 34.

I would be dancing on the rooftop if DH would have a 3.1 level.

Everyone is different and so are the CEA levels. Consider your overall health and feeling and not isolate it to just the CEA. The word cancer turns everyone's world upside down.

Best to you

Posts: 512
Joined: Nov 2007

I couldn't agree more - my world upside down and sidways. Thanks for the response and for putting my question is perspective - I send you and your husband all of my thoughts, hopes and prayers.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Jan 2007

When my husband was dx his cea was 10. Stage 4 with multiple mets to liver. After colon resection it was around 7-8. Oncologist hasn't put a lot of focus on CEA since she says the ct's and scans really tell more of the story. They will now use that as part of the testing in conjunction with the ct's and scans to monitor for reoccurance, but they look at the total picture. Cea can be a good marker for some, but not the "be all" for everyone. Good luck and God Bless

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