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CEA markers and lung cancer?

legendsdaughter
Posts: 30
Joined: Dec 2009

My dad was diagnosed about 3 wks. ago w/ stage IV nsclc (adenocarcinoma).
My mom & I just met the ONC yesterday & she spoke about his CEA #. His was 229. She said that it is very high. He will be starting chemo treatment next week, a day after his 2nd opinion at Sloane-Kett. She said during treatmnet she will use this & other markers to see whether treatment is working, i.e.# will hopefully go down with treatment. I read that this marker is used mostly with GI cancers. Is she just using that # as a reference & can it also be used for lung caner?
The chemo combo that she thinks will work best for him will be Carboplatin & Alimta. She feels that Cisplatin wouldn't be too good for him due to the fact that he has a small hearing impairment where lately some tones & pitches he can't hear too well. I did read that Cisplatin can cause some hearing damage. This will be done every 3 wks for about 4-5 months. She does know that we are going for a 2nd opinion next week & she said that she will work with whatever Sloane recommends & do it at her office. Is that something that is done often?
Do any of you wonderful survivors/caregivers out there, who are sometimes the best source of information b/c of you experiences, have anything to share about the Carboplatin/Alimta combination?
Since my recent posts dad has come out of his depresiion a little & is anxious to get the treatment started. Dr. is giving him oxycontin for pain in his chest & under his arm. I think that after the conversation that I had with him using the inspiration I received from all of the survivors here, in addition to refernces that I found here or were addressed to me, regarding hope & the importance of having a good attitude about this demon, is truly heping
him as well as me & my family.

cobra1122's picture
cobra1122
Posts: 244
Joined: Jul 2009

Legendsdaughter,
I was on Carboplatin, Taxol, and avastin and due to my complicated health issues I had some severe side effects. But I would do it again, as it did help slow down the progression of the cancer.
The markers as my Onc Dr told me when it comes to lung cancer are not that accurate, but can monitor the spread of the cacner into other parts of the body.
I was on very heavy doses 1x every 3 weeks and it took almost 2 weeks for me to become somewhat normal again, but not everyone reacts the same.
Unfortunately the Carboplatin has some side effects that can become chronic/irreversible so speak with your Dads Doctor to know what to watch for, and be very persistant that they keep and eye on anything that is out of the ordinary.
The Most Important thing any of you can do is keep a POSITIVE ATTITUDE and support for each other even in the hardest times, be there , it will help everyone in the long run get throught this with less depression.
Your Dad has to realize that his life is not over and he should live for today, let the future bring what it may it will be here soon enough. I am 49yrs old have a wonderful wife, 3 kids, and 5 great grandchildren, I am also on Hospice, been on it for almost a year now, I refuse to let the prognosis direct my life or tell me how long I have. If you read my bio you will see that I have a very complicated health status and that if I ca keep a positive attitude than anyone should be able too.

Our Prayers and Best Wishes to Your Dad, you, and you Family,
Dan (cobra1122) and Margi Harmon

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Alimta is a rather newly-approved treatment for lung cancer (non-squamous cell, incidentally, which is why dad is a candidate for it).

Like cobra, I was provided carboplatin and taxol for my own chemotherapy, following a lobectomy to remove the lowest right lobe.

It seems from my research that this newer option, alimta, has the same properties as taxol but without the typical side-effects as taxol, or so it is to be hoped, based on the studies that have been done.

As for CEA markers:

"CEA is measured in the blood plasma. It is very non-specific and can be increased in many types of cancer: gastrointestinal, colorectal, ovarian, bladder, cervical, stomach, kidney, lung, pancreatic, liver, prostate, thyroid, melanoma, lymphoma, and breast. People with noncancerous conditions, such as cirrhosis or peptic disease, or inflammatory intestinal conditions such as colitis or diverticulitis, may also have increased levels. CEA levels can be elevated in elderly patients and in those who smoke." [From Dr. Mark Levin's Cancer Treatment site.]

My understanding is that certain markers can be of value in evaluating certain kinds of cancer (at least one marker is famous for breast cancer evaluation). However, I think it is important that you and mom not come to rely on CEA entirely. If you do not feel that dad's current medical team is up to the task, it would be better that you DO get a second opinion and even a new team, one that you can trust (that is, if dad also has issues with the current squad).

Hopefully, dad will be getting scans every three months or so, and I would rely on these more than anything else (EXCEPT FOR my doctors' expertise!) to determine what is happening, to compare today and 'yesterday'.

Best wishes to dad and his family.

Take care,

Joe

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