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Colon Cancer

CEA levels following colon cancer surgery.

12/10/2007

Question:

I was operated on for colon cancer on February 14, 2007 and had 3 units of blood at that time. It was a stage 2B tumor which microscopically went through the colon wall and into the fatty tissue but not beyond. 18 lymph nodes were removed and no trace was found. My first CEA test in March showed 1.4, in June it was 1.8 and in September it was 2.0. While these are below the <2.5 I am concerned at the rise which seems steady. I have had a terrible bout of arthritis and wonder whether this may have some effect on my CEA readings. I am having another test this month. Thank you for your reply.

Answer:

CEA is not specific for colon cancer; there are many conditions which could raise it (infection, inflammation, liver disease, etc....). You should not worry too much but definitely the best thing is to continue follow your CEA levels. If it becomes outside normal range, then doing CT scans is indicated as a next step.

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Response by:

Malek  Safa, MD Malek Safa, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati