CEA rising but no cancer detection

Hello

im new to this board and I really hope you can help me. 

I never had cancer before and my CEA level was consistently below 2 for past 10 years.  However suddenly this year my CEA was increased to 11.3.  Then two weeks later, it increased to 14.1.  We did colonoscopy, PET, and CT but no tumor is detected.  

I know smoking or other non cancerous infection can increase the CEA but I don't think it will increase this much. 

has anyone experienced this?

what needs to be done because doctor doesn't really understand other than keep monitoring CEA level but I'm afraid we are just missing certain cancer detection.  

Should i be worried about this CEA level?  Also how can CEA increase from 11.3 to 14.1 in just two weeks?

please help!!!!  Thank you 

 

Jim 

«13

Comments

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,625 Member
    Hello Jim

    I am quite surprised that you have had your CEA checked for 10 years. It has been my understanding that CEA is not a normal blood test unless there has been prior problems with CRC. Do you have a family history of Colorectal Cancer? 

    CEA can be unpredictable. For some, it just is not a stable marker, for others it is. 

    After finishing with my chemo and radiation treatments, I was NED (no evidence of disease) for several months and then my CEA jumped dramatically. At one point, I had my blood tested a week apart (or was it two?) and my CEA jumped by 10 points. A PET Scan found a tumour in my liver. 

    With a clear colonoscopy, CT & PET, I don't know any other way you could find out if something is amiss or not; unless you go and get a second opinion from a different facility and different GI Doctor. 

    Lets see what others have to say. 

    Welcome to the forum. I hope your stay is short, and that you find the CEA results an anomaly.

    Sue - Trubrit

  • Lovekitties
    Lovekitties Member Posts: 3,364 Member
    Hi Jim

    Can you give us a little background on your situation?  What was the reason your doctor has been monitoring your CEA for 10 years?

    You mention a PET and a CT scan.  Did they do full body - chest to pelvis or just the intestinal area?  If they did a full scan, then it seems you have had all the current diagnostic tests available for the detection of CRC and it's areas of metastasis.

    As you mention, there are other reasons for CEA to rise.  Generalized inflammation, emphysema and benign breast disease can all increase CEA levels, as can gastrointestinal conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, colon or rectal polyps, and ulcers. Did your doctor do a full blood panel to see if you have an infection?  CEA trending upward is worth watching and looking for another cause.

    Have you had any other symptoms such as unexpected weight loss, night sweats, blood in stool?

    Don't worry just yet, but insist on finding any issue which may be causing it to rise.

    Wishing you the best,

    Marie who loves kitties 

     

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12
    Trubrit said:

    Hello Jim

    I am quite surprised that you have had your CEA checked for 10 years. It has been my understanding that CEA is not a normal blood test unless there has been prior problems with CRC. Do you have a family history of Colorectal Cancer? 

    CEA can be unpredictable. For some, it just is not a stable marker, for others it is. 

    After finishing with my chemo and radiation treatments, I was NED (no evidence of disease) for several months and then my CEA jumped dramatically. At one point, I had my blood tested a week apart (or was it two?) and my CEA jumped by 10 points. A PET Scan found a tumour in my liver. 

    With a clear colonoscopy, CT & PET, I don't know any other way you could find out if something is amiss or not; unless you go and get a second opinion from a different facility and different GI Doctor. 

    Lets see what others have to say. 

    Welcome to the forum. I hope your stay is short, and that you find the CEA results an anomaly.

    Sue - Trubrit

    Hi Sue.  Thanks for your

    Hi Sue.  Thanks for your reply and I hope your condition is ok and stay healthy.   There is no particular reason for CEA monitoring for past 10 years.  My annual checkup program is pretty detail and it just happens to include all cancer related markers like CEA, PSA, etc. 

    I am just worried that there is something in my body but simply cannot detect.  I see a lot of false negative based on CEA like your case, but I do not see too many false positive case - especially when CEA is above 10.   This means that in my case, I do have some form of tumor but simply can't find it.  

    I am wondering if there is someone out there who has false positive with CEA above 10?

    Jim

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12

    Hi Jim

    Can you give us a little background on your situation?  What was the reason your doctor has been monitoring your CEA for 10 years?

    You mention a PET and a CT scan.  Did they do full body - chest to pelvis or just the intestinal area?  If they did a full scan, then it seems you have had all the current diagnostic tests available for the detection of CRC and it's areas of metastasis.

    As you mention, there are other reasons for CEA to rise.  Generalized inflammation, emphysema and benign breast disease can all increase CEA levels, as can gastrointestinal conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, colon or rectal polyps, and ulcers. Did your doctor do a full blood panel to see if you have an infection?  CEA trending upward is worth watching and looking for another cause.

    Have you had any other symptoms such as unexpected weight loss, night sweats, blood in stool?

    Don't worry just yet, but insist on finding any issue which may be causing it to rise.

    Wishing you the best,

    Marie who loves kitties 

     

    Hello Marie. Thank you for

    Hello Marie. Thank you for your reply.  

    There is no reason for CEA monitoring for past 10 years.  It just happens that my annual checkup program is very thorough and happen to include all cancer marker like PSA, CES, etc. 

    i have no symptoms related to cancer and my diagnostic examine like PET was full body scan.  I understand that other non tumor cases like inflammation can increase the CEA but I don't think it will increase to level above 10.  Doctor also did full body work and other than slight fatty liver, all within the acceptable range.  There is a slight fibrosis in lung but he says it is normal at my age and certainly not related to CEA 

    I am just wondering if there is anyone out there who had false positive with CEA above 10.  I understand that there are lots of false negative even with CEA below 5 but I did not come across anyone who had false positive with CEA above 10. This means that it is most likely that I have tumor somewhere but simply cannot detect. 

    This worries me because my doctor is telling me there isn't much to do other than regular blood work to monitor the CEA level - which can be too late if there really is tumor growing. 

    I am really at the end of the road and don't know what to do. 

    Jim

  • JanJan63
    JanJan63 Member Posts: 2,478
    I've heard that smokers can

    I've heard that smokers can have CEAs as hsh is 13 to 14. That being said, only certain cancers have CEA production so a person can have other cancers without have any CEA detection at all. But wil  pET scan and CT scan I don't know how they could tell if there is a cancer. I'd think it's an anomaly. But it would scare me as well. Very odd. I hope it's nothing and you don't need to be here. This is an exclusive club that I wish nobody had to join. 

    Jan

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12
    JanJan63 said:

    I've heard that smokers can

    I've heard that smokers can have CEAs as hsh is 13 to 14. That being said, only certain cancers have CEA production so a person can have other cancers without have any CEA detection at all. But wil  pET scan and CT scan I don't know how they could tell if there is a cancer. I'd think it's an anomaly. But it would scare me as well. Very odd. I hope it's nothing and you don't need to be here. This is an exclusive club that I wish nobody had to join. 

    Jan

    Thanks Jan 
    i would love to

    Thanks Jan 

    i would love to see if there are cases like this from other people. 

  • John23
    John23 Member Posts: 2,122
    Work24hr said:

    Thanks Jan 
    i would love to

    Thanks Jan 

    i would love to see if there are cases like this from other people. 

    CEA Fear Extinguisher, Inc.

    Some info………..

    Non-malignant conditions which may have elevated CEA include:

    • Non-malignant liver disease, including cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, viral hepatitis and obstructive jaundice.
    • Chronic kidney disease.
    • Pancreatitis.
    • Inflammatory bowel disease.
    • Irritable bowel syndrome.
    • Diverticulitis.
    • Respiratory diseases - eg, pleural inflammation, pneumonia.
    • Smoking.

    From: http://patient.info/doctor/carcinoembryonic-antigen-ceahttp://patient.info/doctor/carcinoembryonic-antigen-cea

     

    =====================================================

     

    Table. Distribution of CEA

    Subject Group

    No. of

    Subjects

    % with CEA in Indicated Range

    0-2.5

    ng/mL

    2.6-5.0

    ng/mL

    5.1-10.0

    ng/mL

    10.0-20.0

    ng/mL

    >20.0

    ng/mL

    Healthy Subjects

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Non-smokers

    225

    98

    2

    0

    0

    0

    Smokers

    150

    87

    8

    5

    0

    0

    From: http://www.questdiagnostics.com/testcenter/testguide.action?dc=TH_CEA

     

    =====================================================

    Higher than normal CEAlevel alone cannot diagnose a new cancer. Further testing is needed.

    An increased CEA level may also be due to:

    From:  https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003574.htm

    ======================================================

    Your physician should schedule a full exam to determine what else you may be suffering from that has gone unnoticed. All too often we suffer from “small things” and feel they are insignificant to our overall health, since we are busy and otherwise feeling fairly healthy. That’s where ignoring the problem and taking an aspirin or pain killer can do us more harm than good.

    Our body provides us with all we need for survival, when we ignore the signals of a problem, we suffer the consequences dearly.

    You’ll do OK if you find out what’s up -now-. Don’t put it off; don’t take -0- for an answer.

    Be well.

     

  • If your Doctor doesnt

    If your Doctor doesnt understand, you must find a Doctor who can give you an accurate explanation for this.,  I would NOT wait and watch the CEA number go up n up .   So...your homework is to treat this with the utmost importance  and schedule a consultation with a new Doctor. Your present DOctor should completely understand  this decision. 

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12
    John23 said:

    CEA Fear Extinguisher, Inc.

    Some info………..

    Non-malignant conditions which may have elevated CEA include:

    • Non-malignant liver disease, including cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, viral hepatitis and obstructive jaundice.
    • Chronic kidney disease.
    • Pancreatitis.
    • Inflammatory bowel disease.
    • Irritable bowel syndrome.
    • Diverticulitis.
    • Respiratory diseases - eg, pleural inflammation, pneumonia.
    • Smoking.

    From: http://patient.info/doctor/carcinoembryonic-antigen-ceahttp://patient.info/doctor/carcinoembryonic-antigen-cea

     

    =====================================================

     

    Table. Distribution of CEA

    Subject Group

    No. of

    Subjects

    % with CEA in Indicated Range

    0-2.5

    ng/mL

    2.6-5.0

    ng/mL

    5.1-10.0

    ng/mL

    10.0-20.0

    ng/mL

    >20.0

    ng/mL

    Healthy Subjects

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Non-smokers

    225

    98

    2

    0

    0

    0

    Smokers

    150

    87

    8

    5

    0

    0

    From: http://www.questdiagnostics.com/testcenter/testguide.action?dc=TH_CEA

     

    =====================================================

    Higher than normal CEAlevel alone cannot diagnose a new cancer. Further testing is needed.

    An increased CEA level may also be due to:

    From:  https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003574.htm

    ======================================================

    Your physician should schedule a full exam to determine what else you may be suffering from that has gone unnoticed. All too often we suffer from “small things” and feel they are insignificant to our overall health, since we are busy and otherwise feeling fairly healthy. That’s where ignoring the problem and taking an aspirin or pain killer can do us more harm than good.

    Our body provides us with all we need for survival, when we ignore the signals of a problem, we suffer the consequences dearly.

    You’ll do OK if you find out what’s up -now-. Don’t put it off; don’t take -0- for an answer.

    Be well.

     

    Thank you so much for the

    Thank you so much for the useful info.  From the table, given my cea is at 14, at least statistically I may have something - either tumor or non cancerous - with my liver  :(

  • tanstaafl
    tanstaafl Member Posts: 1,299 Member
    MSKCC study

    This MSKCC study was mentioned on the boards last year.  Basically a lot of slight elevation once stuff, some up to 15 with two "+"; rare 2+% false positives with at least one over 15 and other "+" 

    ASCO  http://meetinglibrary.asco.org/content/122986-143

    Ncbi Abstract  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24925201

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12
    tanstaafl said:

    MSKCC study

    This MSKCC study was mentioned on the boards last year.  Basically a lot of slight elevation once stuff, some up to 15 with two "+"; rare 2+% false positives with at least one over 15 and other "+" 

    ASCO  http://meetinglibrary.asco.org/content/122986-143

    Ncbi Abstract  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24925201

    Thank you.  Great info!

    Thank you.  Great info!

  • beaumontdave
    beaumontdave Member Posts: 1,206 Member
    Cea is part of every blood

    Cea is part of every blood panel I'ved had for 8+ years, after the colectomy my numbers slowly rose like yours. Scans showed nothing conclusive, so a needle biopsy was done in my liver. It came up negative, and they monitored a rising cea level every three months until at the two year scans the onc. told me they would biopsy again and either way he wanted the lesions, as they were now calling them, out. the test was positive, the surgery done. I'm ned now with a 1.8, but if it went up rapidly I'd push for why, and worry as well. The comforting part, I hope, is that they waited most of three years and still got the tumors with a single recurrant tumor after that, over a year ago. My numbers hit as high as 44, for what thats worth. John's entry should give you some ease of mind, but like he and others have said, I'd keep pressing for an answer, and live a puritan lifestyle until those numbers head the other way. Good luck to you........Dave

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12

    Cea is part of every blood

    Cea is part of every blood panel I'ved had for 8+ years, after the colectomy my numbers slowly rose like yours. Scans showed nothing conclusive, so a needle biopsy was done in my liver. It came up negative, and they monitored a rising cea level every three months until at the two year scans the onc. told me they would biopsy again and either way he wanted the lesions, as they were now calling them, out. the test was positive, the surgery done. I'm ned now with a 1.8, but if it went up rapidly I'd push for why, and worry as well. The comforting part, I hope, is that they waited most of three years and still got the tumors with a single recurrant tumor after that, over a year ago. My numbers hit as high as 44, for what thats worth. John's entry should give you some ease of mind, but like he and others have said, I'd keep pressing for an answer, and live a puritan lifestyle until those numbers head the other way. Good luck to you........Dave

    Thank you Dave.   It's

    Thank you Dave.   It's alarming to me that despite the increased in CEA, nothing was detected for so long.  It's very fortun that you got the tumor removed but I'm wondering why Doctor could not identified the tumor even though CEA was consistently telling us something was wrong

    To out a further twist to my story, I did the CEA level checking again after 1 week and results shows that it decreased from 14 to 12 now.  At least it did not increase beyond 14 but still very high at 12.  How can CEA increase AND decrease so quickly over a such a short period of time?

  • Work24hr
    Work24hr Member Posts: 12
    Cholinergic Urticaria And CEA

    can Cholinergic Urticaria increase CEA?

  • beaumontdave
    beaumontdave Member Posts: 1,206 Member
    Interesting drop to 12's,

    Interesting drop to 12's, I've only known it to go one way until intervention.

  • beaumontdave
    beaumontdave Member Posts: 1,206 Member
    Work24hr said:

    Cholinergic Urticaria And CEA

    can Cholinergic Urticaria increase CEA?

    Hives? It's testable.

    Hives? It's testable.

  • Nurse_Jeni
    Nurse_Jeni Member Posts: 8 Member
    edited March 2017 #18
    Hi new here too but my CEA

    Hi new here too but my CEA was checked 7 yrs ago and was 2 ,my new GP ordered it again because I lost weight and was nauseous 24/7 (similar to why it was checked 7 yrs ago when the problem resolved by itself). My CEA this time was 10 .... panic stations! I am a registered nurse so understand the possible ramifications. My bloods also showed a raised serum thyroxine which was the probable cause of my weightloss and other symptoms. I was wondering if work24 ever found out any more as I am naturally quite worried. Forgive me if this is the wrong way to ask but I am doing this on my phone and I can't read much due to screen size. Any info would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.

  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,625 Member
    edited March 2017 #19

    Hi new here too but my CEA

    Hi new here too but my CEA was checked 7 yrs ago and was 2 ,my new GP ordered it again because I lost weight and was nauseous 24/7 (similar to why it was checked 7 yrs ago when the problem resolved by itself). My CEA this time was 10 .... panic stations! I am a registered nurse so understand the possible ramifications. My bloods also showed a raised serum thyroxine which was the probable cause of my weightloss and other symptoms. I was wondering if work24 ever found out any more as I am naturally quite worried. Forgive me if this is the wrong way to ask but I am doing this on my phone and I can't read much due to screen size. Any info would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.

    Hello Nurse

    work24 hasn't posted on the forum since December 2015. If you are interested in their success then you can send them a personal message. Sadly, many (too many) of our members don't survive, so you take the chance of sending an email to a deceased member.

    Saying that, work24 hadn't actually been diagnosed, and their not re-posting may be a very good sign that all was well.

    Because this is an old thread, you might want to start a new thread on the forum home page. Here is the link http://csn.cancer.org/forum/128 -  We would love to welcome you to the forum, but hope, as we did with work24, that the rise in CEA is just an anomaly.

    TRU 

  • cweselenak
    cweselenak Member Posts: 1
    edited April 2017 #20
    CEA

    I stopped worrying about my CEA levels. I was diagnosed with Stage IIb colon cancer in January 2014. I've had 14 CEA tests since them. At the time of diagnosis it was 6.8. These levels followed... 2.4, 3.2, 3.6, 2.5, 3.4, 3.6, 4.2, 5.0, 5.4, 5.6, 5.3, 6.9, 4.0. Test ever 3 months at first then 6 months. when it jumped to 6.9 that was during a period when I was smoking a lot. I am one of those sometimes smokers. Then I quit smoking and started eating healthy. My last test was 4.0 last week. All scans have been NED. Now my onc said I don't need to see him until a year from now. Also during my scans he said I do have a fatty liver, and that can make CEA levels rise I hear. My onc told me he has patients in the double digits like 11.0 and stays there that have no recurring cancer even 10 years out.

    So I wouldn't freak out about CEA levels when they are normal or close to normal range.

  • carrienjason777
    carrienjason777 Member Posts: 10
    Elevated CEA

    Hi! I can relate to your frustration and worry as I also am experiencing the same problem (and I thought I might be the only one!)  For almost 3 years my Cea has been checked monthly and ranges from 13-21. Yet all tests thus far have been negative, and some of my Drs are concerned, yet don't know what else to do, while another Dr or two feels that an elevated cea is no reason for concern. What led to the cea being checked at first was gynecological symptoms (turned out to be that I seem to keep ovarian cysts that are complex each time, I have had extreme weight loss, sudden onset anemia, extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, infrequent nausea, and quite honestly, other symptoms that I've had for so long now that I can't recall what's normal or abnormal for me half the time! (Ugh!) The tests I've had done are ct scans from my head to my pelvis, MRIs of the same area, negative colonoscopy and upper endoscopy, and one ovary biopsied and removed was normal, but the other ovary keeps complex and septated cysts ,yet my gyne refused to even check the other ovary when I was in surgery. (I'm guessing cuz the problems at that time we're coming from the side she took out). 

    In regards to other things causing elevated cea, I'm aware that smoking can cause it to go as high as 6, and emphysema/COPD related problems can cause it to go as high as 10-12 max (according to a couple of Drs) yet my level has remained even higher than that for almost 3 years now, and no one has a clue as to what could be wrong and my insurance won't pay for pet scan. My GI suspects ovarian cancer, while another has mentioned the possibility of leukemia type due to the always abnormal results of my labs (monocytes platelets, eosinophils, neutrophils, rbc, mchc, mcv seem to fluctuate either on abnormal high or abnormal low end, depending). Yet the gyne refused to remove the ovary or check it, everyone tells me I need a new gyne Dr and I've had a hard time trying to find one. Please give me any advice you can as this has perplexed me for some time now, and I KNOW my body and I also know that SOMETHING is wrong, I just don't know what and don't know what to do now. I will keep you in my prayers and hope that you find your answer, but what is going on with you currently? Are things any better? Any info I can come up with I will make sure and share with you...Hope things get better for you, and am desperately seeking info myself.

    Thanks 

    Carrie