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CEA level rising during chemotherapy

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2018


My mother diagnosed with colon cancer stage 3B, 5 months ago.

Her 11th term of chemotherapy (out of 12) scheduled on this Wednesday. Something is not normal in her blood tests before each chemotherapy session. Her CEA level before surgery was 7 and after surgery has kept rising steadily.

It has reached 16, last time, and We are too concerned.

Her oncologist suggested a PET scan which would take place on this Sunday.

As long as I understood, rising CEA level during chemotherapy is common (Other cancer indicators like CA19-9 is normal). I like to hear your experience.

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5222
Joined: Jan 2013

It can be predictive for some but not others. Your mum might be one of the 'others'. 

My Oncologist refused to order a CEA during my treatments as he said that they were not reliable due to the chemicals. 

I hope the PET goes well, and shows no uptake. 


DD3's picture
Posts: 134
Joined: May 2013

I have to agree with Tru...  When my wife was intially diagnosed her CEA was 1.9 or something.  They tested her during chemo it was up.  After all was said and done, she was NED.  Good luck on the PET.  

Mikenh's picture
Posts: 777
Joined: Oct 2017

Mine rises every cycle. It stops rising when I take a break.

peterz54's picture
Posts: 345
Joined: Feb 2012


An excerpt:   In a study of 358 patients who presented to surgery with a diagnosis of colon cancer, only 4% of patients with stage I disease had an elevated CEA (> 5 ng/mL), whereas 25%, 44%, and 65% of patients with stage II, III, and IV disease, respectively, had abnormal levels.

Two or three measurements, especially when very low, do not establish a trend in my experience.  My wife started out with a CEA of 1800 beiing stage IV with a lot of liver mets.   chemo did bring  it down, but it never went below a 1000.  

If there are other cancer markers use them as well. 

My personal opinion is that everyone should be checking HbA1c, glucose, hsCRP, and insulin to make sure they optimized (low) as metabolic syndorme and diabetes are rampant in America and highly correlated with cancer, including cancer recurrence.  Excerise and stress control are very important as well and often not considered, much less tracked. 



Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6549
Joined: Feb 2009

It's hard to tell.  CEA is not real reliable and mine was always normal.  In many cases it can rise during treatment.  It's good if they could get a PET scan just to see if there is any need for concern.  Wishing your mother well.


Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2018

We got the result yesterday. Her PET/CT scan is clean and there is not evidence of met.

Thank you all.


Phil64's picture
Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2012

Wonderful news! Congratulations! 

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6549
Joined: Feb 2009

That is really greats news.  Time to celebrate and take a big sigh of relief.  Wonderful.


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