CEA numbers...what do they really mean?

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CEA numbers...what do they really mean?

by Advocate_of_Hope on Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:00 AM

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So my Mom's oncologist is excited because her CEA (Carcinal Embryonic Antigen?) numbers have gone from 69 to 10.5.  As I understand it that means the number of live, cancer cells floating around in her blood have decreased dramatically.  The size of the lesions in her liver are substantially smaller but they weren't sure about the size of the esophageal tumor.  What do the CEA numbers mean in the 'real world'?  Do low numbers mean she is responding really well to chemo and her chances of recovery are better? Can you have low numbers and still  have an aggressive cancer? 

The good news is that the chemo has not made her sick at all!  No hair loss, no nausea and only a little tiredness.  She walks 4 or 5 blocks every day and has actually GAINED back 15 lbs!

RE: CEA numbers...what do they really mean?

by Arnold on Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:00 AM

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On 8/22/2008 Advocate of Hope wrote:

So my Mom's oncologist is excited because her CEA (Carcinal Embryonic Antigen?) numbers have gone from 69 to 10.5.  As I understand it that means the number of live, cancer cells floating around in her blood have decreased dramatically.  The size of the lesions in her liver are substantially smaller but they weren't sure about the size of the esophageal tumor.  What do the CEA numbers mean in the 'real world'?  Do low numbers mean she is responding really well to chemo and her chances of recovery are better? Can you have low numbers and still  have an aggressive cancer? 

The good news is that the chemo has not made her sick at all!  No hair loss, no nausea and only a little tiredness.  She walks 4 or 5 blocks every day and has actually GAINED back 15 lbs!


The reduction in the CEA number is good and yes you can still have cancer present even with low numbers, but less likely.  Less than 5 is considered normal.  The best news are the limited side effects.  Gaining weight, no hair loss, no nausea and little tiredness are great signs.  When are scans scheduled that will focus on the tumors, etc?

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