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CEA Levels

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2011

Anyone know much about rising CEA Levels?

lizzydavis's picture
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

I have a friend with the same question. I am bumping this so someone will respond. Thanks.

stayingcalm's picture
Posts: 654
Joined: Feb 2007

These are what we call tumor markers-when the number in your blood work rises it MAY indicate the presence of a new tumor, not always reliable, however. My oncologist uses a breast cancer marker to track my lung cancer. I think CEA is a colorectal marker.

lizzydavis's picture
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

Thanks StayingCalm,

I appreciate your response!


Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2010

Tumor markers are not always reliable especially if you have had cancer before. CEA Levels are also affected by other things one of them being smoking...The docs checked CEA levels b/c of my colon cancer and the Lung cancer was Not caught from the CEA....

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

CEA is indeed a designation for what we commonly refer to as 'cancer markers'. I don't know much more about them than stayingcalm indicates, but it happens that I was talking to a colon cancer survivor earlier tonight who advised that normal CEA levels for non-smokers are 3.0 and lower; for smokers, you can expect between 3.0 and 5.0. Hers were in triple digits, this person I was speaking with, which is cause for some alarm, to be sure, much, in fact, based on what she was saying.

I believe that it is rather relative, which is to say that they measure them and then evaluate them within the context of everything else that is going on with you, treatment-wise. If you are receiving chemotherapy, for example, they are hopeful that the number will shrink. If it does not, perhaps they need to modify treatment.

It is not, that is, the sole tool for evaluating extent of cancer or even success of treatment. It is a tool, but it is not the only one.

Depending on the type of cancer, when we are in treatment we are evaluated for any number of indicators. Since I am a survivor of head/neck cancer as well as lung, I am routinely tested for thyroid abnormalities. As a five-year survivor of h/n cancer, though, my CT scans no longer include head scans: let us know how his chest is doing, they ask of the scan folks.

CEA is a tool. A tool that your trusted (hopefully) professionals use to evaluate what is going on in conjunction with all else that is part of what is being done for you or the person for whom you are asking the question.

The best thing to do is to take notes, to write down your questions, including this one, and to take them with you to your next mtg with the doctor(s). They can answer the question better than any of us, especially as they relate to you or the one you are concerned about.

I wish you the best.

Take care,


lizzydavis's picture
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

Thanks, Joe. My friend is a lung cancer patient who is currently on chemo. Last October, she had a CEA of 35. She recently learned it was around 70. It has gone up again today to 81. She is worried but they did change her chemo and said that perhaps it had not had time to work. I am trying to learn all I can.

Thanks again,

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