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Thread: The Meaning of CEA results

  1. #1
    Regular User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    The Meaning of CEA results

    I am finishing up my chemo with 2 more treatments. It appears I am responding positively to treatment so far. I know that the CEA test is not an exact science and that not all tumors produce CEA. With that being said... I have continually seen my CEA go down for many months. A couple of times it has gone up a couple points but each time I had some kind of infection and it immediately went down when the infection was gone. Each time they run a CEA it has been going down between 3-5 points after each treatment. It is currently 10.5 but has been as high as 758 before treatment and surgery. So here are my questions:

    1) If I get to the "normal" CEA range 0-5 does that mean I'm as likely to get get cancer again as any other person?

    2) I've asked my doctor this but to me this doesn't make sense (maybe I'm just too logical in thinking). Because the CEA is lowering it seems obvious that the chemo is killing the cancer in the blood. The doctor has stated once we get to 14 treatments we stop and I understand your body can only tolerate so much chemo because after all it is poison. If my CEA is still lowering why not continue until it stops after all it is still killing cancer cells?

    3) If different types of chemo attacks the cancer in different ways and it's important to kill the cancer cells as soon as possible to prevent the cells from further mutating and becoming resistant to chemo then why not attack the cancer with all the different types of chemo? My doctor's initial treatments was 5-FU, lucovorin, oxaliplatin. However, due to the side effects of oxaliplatin and partially *my* decision to attack the cancer cells with something else as it appeared we were steady with the CEA on that treatment we switched to irinotecan. Since then my CEA was been dropped at a steady pace. So why isn't the recommended guidelines for treating cancer for Stage 3c cancer?

    Sorry for the lengthy post
    1/15/09 - Colonscopy Biopsy (Stage IIIc Colon Cancer)
    1/26/09 - FOLFOX - 5-FU, leucovorin, oxaliplatin, avastin
    5/5/09 - Removal of Stage IIIC Colon Cancer Tumor & Permanent Ostomy. 13 lymph nodes removed 12 positive for cancer.
    8/6/09 - Started 6 weeks radiation w/5-FU pump
    9/21/09 - FOLFOX regimen - 5-FU, leucovorin & oxaliplatin.
    10/12/09 - FOLFIRI regimen - 5-FU, leucovorin & irinotecan.
    05/07/10 - Stage IV cancer in bones and lymph nodes.

    Age Diagnosed 34. Current Age: 35

  2. #2
    Top User
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Hi so sorry to hear what yu are going through.

    To answer your questions.. .. it seems to me that every Dr is so different in there approach to patients. My wife had on going chemo and as long as she tolerated ( and she did ) it,there was no set time or number of treatments. the only yardstick was CEA and a Pet Scan.

    Ideally you want Cea to be down to 1 or 2 ... you are right if the chemo is working, why not continue with it until Cea is way down. I know of one lady who has stage 1V was told she will be on chemo for rest of her life.
    When it comes to your health you have to be very very proactive and keep asking your DR all the questions of why? and if ? etc etc..

    Make sure you get scans regular this is best way to tell you whats happening and also make sure you get all the reports of blood tests, scans etc so you can see for your self in writing whats happening inside of your body. Always be in the driving seat when it comes to your life.

    I know by experience of 8 yrs .. and wished in early days when my wife had cancer. we should have took more of control instead of just stting back thinking that all Drs know best, as every one is so different and you know your body and what it can tolerate.

    Yes we have to follow Drs no doubt about that, but we can also be very proactive if what they are saying, you dont feel comftable with, you have the right to speak up and even get a second opinion.

    I am also convinced part of the healing process is a very good Diet
    ( somehting that most Drs dont talk about ) and also good support group friends family etc... and 50% is having a very good positive outlook and then lots of prayer ... combine all this and you have a chance to be a winner.

    I wish you peace and healing and all you need to b on this journey, rememebr you are not alone we are all here with you on your journey and we really do care.

    God Bless You and All on this Journey...

    Best Wishes Rob

  3. #3
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    hello...i'm not sure what cea indicates. mine has never been higher 2.8. now it stays at 2.5......i've been put on different coctails of the few chemicals available over the past five years and have had various "side effects" some don't go away. low blood count was most threatning and the only thing they could find that worked was take me off all treatment. i was able to find a suppliment that put it back in two weeks and completed treatment. it kills more than cancer and to over treat makes no sense to me. if this reasoning worked just give everybody chemo and nobody would get cancer. look what over use of antibiotics caused. don't mean to rain on your parade but you need to have confidence in your team of doctors and second or third opionions are fine...it makes no difference where you roll up your sleeve as long as the oc has an accurate pathological report....they won't give out stats as to how many 5 year survivors each have and the only one i could find was for throat cancer. mem. s. k. {ny} after surgery 60% rest of ny same procedure 4%. takes more than chemo. hope this helps .....bruce

  4. #4
    Hi, The CEA marker is not 100% sound. My hubby has had colon cancer since 2005 and it metastasized to his liver in 2006. Several tumors since. The last scan showed a new tumor in his liver. His CEA was even lower than previous test, down to 1.9. The tumor was malignant when they did the the wedge resection. You can't always go by CEA level. Even when his CEA was low after colon resection, his cancer still went to his liver. Stay on top of your scans and labs and hopefully nothing will show in either. Take care!

  5. #5
    Moderator Top User
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Houston, Texas
    My CEA has always been normal. You couldn't tell I had cancer looking at it. My blood work shows a healthy person.

    I rely on the CT and PET scans.
    10/01/07 - Removal of Colon Cancer Tumor & Temporary Colostomy
    11-07-07 to 04-09-08 FOLFOX and Avastin. 04-28-08 Colostomy Reversal
    June 2009 3 Tumors in the Peritoneal tissue- FOLFIRI and ERBITUX.
    11-25-09 Tumors inactive(Oct). Finish FOLFIRI, continue ERBITUX
    Jan 2010-May 2010 FOLFIRI and ERBITUX.
    June 2010 Cancer in Liver. Nov 2010 - Oxyplatinum, Avastin and IROX
    Age Diagnosed 40. Current Age:44


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