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Should I be worried with a slight CEA increase?

CessnaFlyer's picture
Posts: 110
Joined: Aug 2009

I’ve been getting 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin chemotherapy and my CEA rate has gone from 1.9 on 6/19/09 to 2.1 on 12/03/09. Should I worry? Also, they did a “Cellsearch Circulating Turmor Cells” test which came back “0”. Does this mean there are no cancer cells in my blood?

PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4907
Joined: May 2005

It's really something that you can get a better answer with by asking your Oncologist. Personally, I would not get too caught up in the CEA numbers. It's not always an accurate test or marker as to one's health. I will say that it does not look like a big difference at all over a roughly 6 month period.

KATE58's picture
Posts: 300
Joined: Nov 2009

My doctor does not even take my cea anymore, it doesn't work on me
and my doctor says its not a good indicater for some people.

Patteee's picture
Posts: 950
Joined: Jul 2009

that kind of an increase I would think would be due to normal fluctuation? See, my oncologist wouldn't even do the CEA while I was going through chemo, he said that chemo skews the results and doesn't give an accurate picture when one is going through chemo.

Posts: 75
Joined: May 2008

I would think that is completly normal. I have been told not to worry about small fluctuations at all, to look at trends.

Also, this has been discussed on another board and had been noted that two different methods have been used to determine values and some labs have switched recently causing cea numbers to change. Here is a link to the thread.


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CessnaFlyer's picture
Posts: 110
Joined: Aug 2009

I really appreciate your comments. They were very helpful and will help me to sleep a little easier tonight. I know it's silly worrying about a small increase like this, but I am super on-guard about anything that has to do with the possbility of cancer these days. I'm taking everything much more seriously than I did before I learned about the colon cancer. What a wake up call that was.

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6547
Joined: Feb 2009

Mine was always low and while doing chemo it did go up slightly. Yours did go up just a slight amount I'd be surprised if the doctor would even make mention of it only because I still believe that is still in the normal range. A lot of factors can bring it up, including chemo. I bet it is stress from the Holidays that did it :) I believe there is no need to worry at all.


TxKayaker's picture
Posts: 177
Joined: Jun 2009

I don't even trust my CEA number my CEA at the time I had my tumor removed last April was 2.1 well within the normal range.

vinny3's picture
Posts: 933
Joined: Jun 2006

That amount of change can be normal variation- the CEA will rarely be one constant number even if there is no problem. During chemo, with the destruction of some of the cancer cells, the CEA may even rise. Sleep well.


lisa42's picture
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Cessnaflyer,

You just answered my question here that I asked in your other thread on circulating tumor cells tests. I asked if you also get your CEA tested. So, obviously, the answer is yes.
I have wondered before & will ask my onc if it would also be of value to have the CTC done in addition to the CEA, as I've never had it tested before.


ldot123's picture
Posts: 276
Joined: Apr 2008

My onc. says anything under 3 or 4 is OK (can't remember which) Mine went up a bit on my last checkup but the doc was unconcerned because it was still low. The number does fluctuate. I don't think CEA was a real indicator for me either as it was never highly elevated and I was a stage 3 guy.

Cheers, Lance

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