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Cea level 7162

Woody13027
Posts: 8
Joined: Feb 2020

I was just diagnosed with rectal cancer last week from colonoscop. haven't seen surgeon or encoloogist yet. My cea level was 7162 I haven't been staged yet or had ct scan. Does a level that high mean it has already spread.

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1060
Joined: Apr 2017

I can't say that I know, but CEA levels are highly unpredictable and probably should be evaluated by experts with other information such as CT or PET scans.  I have been in your shoes and had no idea of what would happen.  It is frightening.  But perhaps it is comforting that nothing will happen immediately, and you will have the opportunity to take things one step at a time.  Sorry you are here, but hopefully you will find this forum helpful in the challenges that you may face.

Woody13027
Posts: 8
Joined: Feb 2020

I appreciate it im 44 and did not expect it at all it floored me but I have a great wife and a 4 year old son so I'm ready to kick it's ***

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5141
Joined: Jan 2013

While it is a very high CEA, we have and have had members with high CEA numbers. Once they started treatment or had surgery, it dropped drastically, and many times into normal range. In fact, I believe I read a post just this past week where someones high CEA dropped to normal levels - I'll look for it.

As our friend, Sandia, said, we won't be able to tell you about the chance of spread, because it is different for each person.  Once you see your Oncologist and get  scans and lined up with either surgery or treatment, you'll be on the road to kicking this and being there for your great wife and lovley son. 

Stick with us and we'll help you through this journey. 

Tru

Real Tar Heel
Posts: 61
Joined: Nov 2019

Had a post on CEA levels last week. For some people, very meaningful to their diagonsis, not so for others. I had normal CEA w/ a tumor that had just been ablated. Tobacco users show a little higher than non-smokers/dippers/snuffers. The CEA number does not tell you whether it has spread, just that your body is showing the presence of a substance associated with the presence of cancer.

I would wait on your scan results and talk to the doctor first. Stay off the Internet until you have a solid treatment plan. Then come back and listen to our war stories!

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1171
Joined: Feb 2015

CEA has different scales from different labs.  7700 is so WAY past anything that has been reported for me, that I am guessing it is a different scale.  My CEA was about 8 to 8.5 when cancer found or came back.  Dropped after surgeries to about 4.  Then spiked during chemo back to about 8.5.  I now have cancer everywhere in my body just about.  The CEA is up to 14.  

Best thing to do is get the scans and follow the above posts.  Some people have no correlation or minimal with CEA and their cancer, as others mentioned, some have more.  Plus other things can cause CEA to go up.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6475
Joined: Feb 2009

Welcome to the board and I'm so sorry that you have to be here.  Although you do have a very high number, I'm not sure that is indicative of anything particular so you should wait until the other testing is done and you talk to a doctor.  My CEA was completely normal during active cancer so it was unreliable for me.  We are a great group and can help you get through this.  Wishing you the best and let us know if you have any further questions.

Kim

Butt's picture
Butt
Posts: 354
Joined: May 2018

Unfortunately almost always yes. Most likely is liver.

zx10guy
Posts: 259
Joined: Dec 2013

While a CEA number that high does indicate a high probability of a high tumor load/spread, it's not definitive.  CEA with corresponding diagnostic evidence such as scans is what provides the basis for treatment.  My doc has said he doesn't treat on a number alone.  And in my case on a series of numbers.  I agree with others to wait till you have more information which will be in the form of most likely a CT scan first and then maybe a PET or MRI.

The mention of different scales is true but it is really at the low end of resolution where the two different assay tests provide different ranges of "normal".  The two different CEA assay tests are the Bayer Siemens and Roche.  The Bayer Siemens has been used for a long time where the normal range for a non smoker is from 0 to 3.  That same range goes up a little under the Roche test where the upper end of normal is in the mid 4s up to 5ish.  Once you get passed this normal range, the numbers between the two correlates more closely and especially as you get higher in the CEA range.

CEA is a protien antigen that is naturally produced by the body.  It is metabolized out of your blood by your liver.  High levels of CEA are a result of something in your body producing CEA at a rate your liver cannot metabolize out of your system quickly enough.  CEA was correlated to be a predictive marker around solid tumor cancers (breast cancer patients also have their CEA tracked).  But it is by no means solely associated with cancer and is also not fully predictive of cancer.  Some benign situations can cause CEA elevation such as hypothyroidism or some inflammation in the body.  This is why CEA is not used solely as a diagnostic tool to see if one has cancer or not.  While there is some high confidence in the number correlating to something cancer related, it's not used as a primary diagnostic.

In my situation, I had tracked with the established norm with how CEA behaves based on my cancer situation.  When I was first diagnosed, I had a baseline of 13.9 before surgery.  After surgery and chemo it dropped to just above 3 based on the Bayer Siemens test and 4.7 when the lab I used switched to the Roche test.  Since then it bounced around in the 5s.  While it's outside of the normal range, my doc deemed it fine since nothing was showing up in my CT scans and it's not creeping up.  I had a dramatic spike back in 2016 where it went from the 5s up to 9.7 and then 11.  After extensive diagnostics, a colonoscopy found a polyp in my appendix.  Had surgery and my CEA number dropped down to 5.4.  Many of my docs thought that was the source but my oncologist wasn't so convinced.  A few months after the surgery to remove the polyp, my CEA shot up again in March of 2017.  The number came in at 15.6.  A retest was done where it came in at 16.7.  All sorts of tests were done and nothing was found.  From that point on, my CEA has bounced around in the range of 11 to 20 for 2 years.  Then last year, my CEA started to climb again.  First 26.  Then 28.6.  And then last October to 52.4.  A retest confirmed the number at 51.9.  More scans were done outside of the routine CT for my checkups.  MRI showed nothing and same with a PET.  Doc wanted a retest of my CEA a month later which cam in at 44.4.  So it dropped and didn't keep climbing.  By all accounts with those numbers alone, there would be high confidence I am having a recurrence.  But since I've been on this rollercoaster for now 3 years, no one is sure what is going on.  My oncologist has pretty much thrown his hands up.  Can't treat something that you can't see or find.  So the point of my retelling my story is that treatment is not done based on CEA number alone.

While we're on the topic of blood/chemical tests in cancer care, there has been growing use of liquid biopsies.  This test doesn't go about detecting for an element in your blood.  It goes about looking for DNA in your blood which are cancerous in nature.  From many of the results, liquid biopsies have been showing better accuracy in predicting the onset of cancer before it is seen on scans.  The issue falls into its use as follow up care and the prediction of a recurrence.  There is a push to have studies done to see if those using liquid biopsies after cancer treatment for surveillance will have good accuracy in predicting a recurrence and if the initiation of chemo based on liquid biopsy results will provide better survival outcomes.

Woody13027
Posts: 8
Joined: Feb 2020

i had ct scan doesn't look good haven spoken to dr yet that's next 2 days. But from what I read it looks like it has spread to lungs and liver and possibly spine ugh pretty tough at 44 

SandiaBuddy's picture
SandiaBuddy
Posts: 1060
Joined: Apr 2017

Tough news.  I have given up reading scans myself and wait to talk to the doctor because sometimes the way things are worded makes things sound way worse than they really are.  You can hope for that.  Plus, the sun will rise and set two more times before you go to the doctor.  I find peace in those little things.

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5141
Joined: Jan 2013

Time to freak out. Well, that is what we do, isn't it. Then you will see your Oncologist and things will fall into place. Either you have read it right or wrong, either way, your Onc will come up with a plan of action, and believe it or not, that really helps to settle the mind.  

Our friend NewHere has mets to his spine. He stays positive and active. It is hard to think that can happen, but he is living proof, as are others.  While you may have a bumpy ride ahead of you, face it with strength and positivity and it will carry you a long way. 

And yes, 44 is FAR TOO YOUNG. 

We are here for you. 

Tru

Real Tar Heel
Posts: 61
Joined: Nov 2019

That's really tough. We'll offer the support we can.

I also want to add that reading the radiologist's report can give you some unecessary headache. One CT scan report noted a >1 cm spot that was "concerning for metastasis." My docs thought it was probably nothing. Was gone on the next CT scan without a trace. Was the second time that happened. Scared the crap out of me. Sometimes a stray clot or floating blood vessel can read to an inexperienced radiologist like a tumor because it isn't well differentiated but it looks like something.

In your case, it sounds like a lot to deal with, but wait until you talk with your team.

NewHere's picture
NewHere
Posts: 1171
Joined: Feb 2015

Like Tru mentioned, I have it in my spine.

My cancer came back as inoperable in 2017 and  I have it in my lungs (probably 80 tumors or so, with part of my lung being taken in 2016 from a met), in my spine (2-3 tumors), psoas muscle and lymph nodes. .  I started exercising.  A lot.  Have done 1/2 marathons and triathlons, including 70.3s.  I should be on the couch on oxygen.  I did a 7 mile run Sunday.  !2 mile indoor bike today.  Yesterday was scheduled rest day :)

As to reading things, I have gotten okay at reading my lung CTs.  Still cannot id the spine tumors though on either the CT or Spine MRI.

Anyway, try to not worry too much.  You will see your doctor and get a game plan going as needed.  FWIW, I had radiation on my spine in 2018 and it has been stable.  I went back on chemo shortly after the radiation and stopped in the beginning of 2019 due to chemo stopping being effect.  But the scan on my spine a couple weeks ago indicates it is still stable, maybe even improved.  

Tueffel
Posts: 80
Joined: Feb 2020

I am very sorry to hear that your cancer is already in some body parts. I will cross my fingers for you that everything will get better.

 

As a med student I can tell you that tumor markers like CEA are not really specific or sensitive. It is not used in diagnostics like "Your CEA is high. You have cancer". In general all tumor msrkers are used during treatment procedure. It should decrease when the tumor for example is removed. Also many other diseases can cause a higher CEA level. 

I can not really give you an example for CEA but to PSA, prostate specific antigen. PSA is specific to the prostate, still many different diseases related to it can increase PSA. It is used during prostate cancer control during treatment but not for diagnosis. PSA can be increased due to ejaculation or digital rectal examination. 

The tumor marker which will tell you exactly where the cancer is or that you have one does not exist. 

I know that my words at this point wont cheer you up, maybe some others will see, but I still hope the best for youand your family. 

Samolo
Posts: 6
Joined: Jan 2020

Hi there, has anyone had any experience with colon cancer coming back and spreading only to the spleen? I just had a splenectomy and am waiting on the pathology report. Everyone keeps saying how unusual or rare it is. 

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