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Cathleen Mary
Posts: 827
Joined: May 2011

I feel a little guilty writing because I have done so well and so many have not. I was diagnosed with stage II colon cancer 18 months ago...surgery, no chemo; close f/u. At diagnosis, my CEA was 7.5. It returned to normal, 1.5 within 6 weeks.My last 3 levels have been 2.4; 2.8; 3.2. (taken evey 3 months) I agreed to hold off a scan until next appt. My last scan, 9 mos ago was clean. Right decision? Sign of recurrence?
Thanks. Prayer for all.
Cathleen Mary

Lilmiss82's picture
Posts: 257
Joined: Dec 2009

I wanted to bump your post so that others can chime in and give their recommendations:) Keep in mind that CEA can rise due to other factors such as smoking, infection, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and some benign tumors. Hope that helps some -Melissa

Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2011

I understand the way you feel. I was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer nearly 6 years ago. I had surgery, no lymph node involvement and no mets. I took 6 rounds of Xeloda after surgery, which I tolerated well. My doctor gave me a choice; no chemo (with careful surveillance) or trying the Xeloda. At sugery, my CEA was 1.7 and since then has never gone above 1.0. My oncologist, who is ultra-conservative, was going to release me last week, but my CEA, which was .09 in January is now 1.1. A retest from the same sample had a value of 1.2. This has not happened before and I will retest in 6 weeks. My scan from November was normal, my colonoscopy last year found 2 polys, both of which were (thankfully) benign. Everyone has CEA. In order to make me feel better, my husband had his CEA tested and came back with 1.1. I have arthritis, allergies, diabetes and a recent knee surgery that may all be culprits in causing a bump in CEA. However, these are not new maladies and I understand your concern over a slowly rising number. Age is also a factor in rising CEA. Values appear to be higher if blood draws are made in the afternoon, and I have read that they are lower following a recent colonoscopy. In April of 2010, I had a 1.0. My oncologist ordered a colon/endoscopy and the next week my CEA was 0.7. Now it is 1.1. My doctor doesn't think I have cancer again but I see it as a trend even though I there are many factors that can cause a change. Have you seen your primary, or do you have anything else on board that could cause a change in CEA? Doctors are usually careful giving us scans as too many of them are not a good idea due to radiation issues. If my CEA in 6 weeks goes down, or stays the same, he will release me. If not, I am off for more scans. They would look for an abnomality and then likely order a PET scan for further identification. I am very upset as you are. Actually, I'm mad. I had acutally begun to allow myself not to be afraid anymore. Your doctor sounds like mine; very cautious and always vigilant. You sound like me; always skeptical. My husband called the Lab that works for my doctor and discussed CEA ranges. CEA can make as much as a .5 swing every time they test. My Mom is 90 and has had cancer 3 times; twice breast and once throat. She has been on a feeding tube for 6 years, but she is smart, reads the newspaper throughly every day and other than the inability to eat much food, she is doing well. Through all of that she stayed level headed and trusted her doctors. She is truly amazing. Most of the people on this website will understand your concern and send you inspiration and good wishes to stay and track and keep fighting. They understand recurrences and emotional upheaval, anger, concern and pain. I have not written a reply or comment for the same reasons you didn't, but again we are all survivors and this discussion board is for all of us. I am going to a colon cancer support group tonight. It has only be open for 2 months. One of the most difficult things is finding others nearby to talk with that have had your same experience. This forum will open that door for you. I will hold you in my heart and my thoughts and know that I am in this with you. If you are a reader, you may want to look for a book titled Happiness in a Storm by Wendy Schlessel Harpham MD. You may find it very helpful. God bless you.

pepebcn's picture
Posts: 6352
Joined: Aug 2010

my CEA rised 5 points every 15 days!.
Nevertheless when do you got next app?

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2015

I just wanted to comment on this and say I am dealing with the same thing.  I am a 26 y/o guy and was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer (1 lymph node involvement) 1 year ago.  My CEA last year before surgery was 5.6.  During treatment and a little after treatment it stayed between 1.3-2.0.  Over the past 6 months it has been slowly rising.  It went from 2.0 to 2.2 to 2.4 to 2.8 now it is at 3.0.  It is concerning me, but the doctor still doesn't seem too concerned.  My scan 3 momths ago was clean.

John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

You're replying to a very, very old post. In most cases, the original individuals are no longer with us.

Best wishes for you,




Cathleen Mary
Posts: 827
Joined: May 2011

I am still here! It was my post.  My CEA hovers around 5....still NED.

cathleen Mary (CM)

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6349
Joined: Feb 2009

Glad you are still here and doing so well.  It's hard when people pull up old posts but glad that you are still posting Smile


John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Glad to see you, Cath!!!

You're an incentive for all!


Be well,



MAliceR's picture
Posts: 98
Joined: Mar 2015

When I was first diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, my CEA was 13. After surgery and the first sessions of chemo it dropped to 4.5. I had a recurrence 19 months ago and at the time, my CEA was 3.5. After the next sessions of chemo it was 4.5 and has stayed there ever since. I am also diabetic and my understanding is that can change it a bit. My oncologist says she doesn't have a rule of thumb for what is normal and what isn't. She uses the CEA test to watch for trends. If it starts to climb, she will have scans done sooner.  I guess Drs. use the CEA tests differently.If your CEA is up, but you are still NED, then enjoy life, get your tests when you should and maybe that is just normal for you.



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