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Bowel (colon and rectum) cancer

A group for anyone affected by colon, rectal or small bowel cancer to get together, ask questions, share experiences and support each other.

Increased CEA levels (9.9) >4 months after surgery, 3 chemo sessions to go

No. of entries: 5 | Posted on 10 Jan 2013 2:15 PM

Increased CEA levels (9.9) >4 months after surgery, 3 chemo sessions to go

  • I am currently going through adjuvant chemotherapy after my stage 3 tumour was removed August 15th, 2012

    My oncologist has noticed an increase in the cancer marker (CEA) levels, which have been slowly creeping up and were at 9.9 on my last blood test from a week or so back

    I have just had a further CT scan which showed that there was an abnormality in my bowel which my oncologist does not understand and needs to discuss with the radioligist

    Whilst 9.9 is just below the area of concern (>10) I am naturally concerned that this could be a recurence of the tumour or the tumour was not completely removed?

    Does anyone else have any experience of CEA levels increasing post op?

  • Hi,

    Yes, my mum had chemo for two years for stage 4 bowel cancer. Her tumour markers were about 7.3 the first year, showed a downward trend to 3.5 initially then by the half way mark it had gone up to 10. The second year she was about 5.5 at the start of treatment then went up to 11. something. Each time she had a great result from chemo and most tumours had disappeared. Apparently it is a much more reliable marker when off chemo but not so good on chemo. I read at the time some chemotherapy agents can in themselves cause a rise. Even the lab report had written in red across it "interperate with caution".

    My mum's colon took quite a hammering on chemo so perhaps some inflammation too. My mum's first oncologist would not normally give out CEA numbers as he felt they just caused anxiety.

    I hope the rest of your treatment goes smoothly. We relied more on the scans.

    Kind regards,



  • Hi Court

    Many thanks for your reply

    I agree, it seems that the chemotherapy can have some effect on the CEA levels as they noted a slight increase in the beginning but that seemed to return to normal after a few sessions

    I potentially 3 sessions to go (dependent upon my oncologists discussion with the radioligist) he said they may stop the chemo and / or I may need a PET scan

    I wish your mum good health and all the best

    Thank you again for taking the time to reply to me, it is always comforting to hear from people that know someone or are going through the same experience as I am


  • My oncologist never looked at CEA levels (or at least told me they never looked) because he said they were not reliable during chemo and can cause more anxiety than they were worth.

  • Your very welcome. It is good that your oncologist is diligent and checking with the radiologist. In a stage four setting you can imagine just how many scans we have been through with my mum. They are inclined to mention anything and everything but have always been quite specifiic when they thought it was cancer. Hope thats the case here. Sounds as though you have a thorough oncologist and thats great.

    I read your comments regarding your work. Really poor show. My mum only ever did six in a row and it was tough for her. You have done so well to make it into work never mind getting up to 9 sessions. My mum was retired so never experienced the financial implications. Macmillan do grants in such cases so you may wish to seek some help there.

    Just to encourage you , six weeks after stopping chemo my mum was able to kayak for the first time. She continues to keep a good quality of life thanks to the NHS and lots of support.

    Take care,