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SBRT radiation and rising CEA........

AnnLouise's picture
Posts: 276
Joined: Mar 2013

Has anyone experienced this? Finished SBRT radiation last week and this week my CEA is elevated. Just looking  for amy reasons, experiences, comments, or questions. Any feedback is appreciated....starting to worry.  Thanks ~ Ann

John23's picture
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007


It seems we pay too much attention to CEA than should be spent. CEA is just one marker of many, many markers for cancer; taken alone, it doesn’t mean much.


Inflammation can cause a rise, as well as a good deal of cancer cells all dying at once. A rise in CEA can mean that the treatment (chemo or radiation, or alternative) is actually working!


I’ve previously posted reports that describe that phenomena, and how oncologists can make a terrible mistake taking a patient off a specific treatment due to a rise in CEA, when that rise is really due to the treatments working! Here’s one:


"If we had followed this ASCO guideline of measurement of CEA
level every second month, one of the surge patients would have
been incorrectly interpreted as having experienced treatment
failure, and therapy would have stopped. The patient would have
been incorrectly removed from the treatment, giving her a time to
progression of 11.2 months and 27.3-month survival.


To avoid inappropriate therapy changes based on clinical misinterpretation
of a CEA surge as an impending disease progression, we suggest
that future ASCO guidelines should mention the possibility of CEA
surge. Furthermore, we suggest that no therapy changes should be
based on CEA levels alone at all during the first 6 months of therapy.


An initial rise in CEA level during effective chemotherapy in
colorectal cancer patients may not always indicate progression of
disease but may be a transient CEA surge in patients responding
to chemotherapy. In monitoring tumor responses and in future
guidelines for the use of tumor markers, the possibility of a
surge phenomenon should be taken into account.


This will especially be important if a new, more effective treatment with
high response rates or rapid tumor destruction is introduced. "

From: http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/21/23/4466.full


So, there ya’ go! That’s just one of very many reports and papers that tell us not to be concerned with CEA as much as we are concerned. It’s just one marker of many.


My best wishes to you for better health,




AnnLouise's picture
Posts: 276
Joined: Mar 2013

I needed to see a logical example and facts in front of me....thanks. I do put a lot of stock in my CEA number because it is a good indicator for me, but there are variables that I need to remember. I think I will go with inflamation and dying cancer cells......thanks again......just needed help in putting things in perspective.   ~ Ann

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