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Colon Cancer/Effects of Chemotherapy drugs on an elevatedCEA


My stage 4 (small Hepatic mass in lower right lobe) colo-rectal cancer was treated by radiation, surgery and chemotherapy throughout 2012.  Since that year's end until this past October 2014 I was cancer free.  A PET scan revealed a recurrence of cancer with an abdominal mass in the mesenteric tissue on the right abdomen, very close to the small bowel and just below waist level, also with some malignant mesenteric nodes.  My CEA had been below 1.0 until a gradual increase occured -- Oct 2013 - 1.4, Feb 2014 - 2.9, June 2014 - 8.9, Oct 30 2014 - 37.6 (along with this reading the CT was listed as normal), Dec 10 2014 - 52.7 (Pet scan showed the abd mass- was present in Oct but missed and also very small spot was noted in June in comparing the site of the mass on the CT and PET slides).  Chemo treatment began Jan 5 2015 CEA was 88.3, Jan 15th - 64.5, Feb 4 - 70.8, Feb 18 - 68.8.

Chemo drugs being used include 5FU, Irinotecan, Leucovorin, and Avastin.  I have just completed my 4th treatment (one every 2 weeks) of 6 planned before returning for more CT studies and a possibility of surgical intervention.

My question is the lack of response in the CEA when considering the chemo drugs I am receiving. There was a considerable drop after the 1st treatment (88 down to 64) but an increase with the next (up to 70) and then just a slight decrease on my last count (down to 68).  Does this lack of drecrease in the CEA have any bearring on if the Chemo drugs are doing the job they are supposed to do?  I have the expected blah feeling, some nausea and some diarrhea that I am able to treat quite well with the drugs prescribed.  Just wondering if I am on the right track.

I can understand your feeling. If your CEA level does not seem to change or even increases there is cause for concern. Maybe your doctor should consider another medicine combination? Even more so if there is no change or even increase of your observed metastases!  Discuss it with your doctor! Repeated cytostatic drug sessions may be able to keep it under control for a long period of time and may be combined with surgery. However no promises can be given and as you have a stage 4 cancer no one can promise any cure at present. Good luck!

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Colon Cancer

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Claes-Gustaf Nordquist, M.D.


I`m a doctor of medicine and a specialist in radiation therapy and medical oncology. I have long experience with regards to this cancer.


I'm a Doctor of Medicine and specialist in Medical Oncology and Radiation Therapy educated & trained in Sweden. Now retired. Background in Radiation Therapy, Medical Oncology, Radiation Protection, Nuclear Medicine, Diagnostic Radiology, Gynecological Oncology, Clinical Pathology, Clinical Cytology,Hematology and Internal Medicine. M.D. from the faculty of medicine, Royal Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. Have also been an exchange student at the Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem Israel. Former medical consultant, Swedish National Board of Radiation Protection. Former Police Surgeon and Medical Examiner, Stockholm Police Department. Former Chief Medical Officer, The Royal Guards, The Royal Horse Guards and the Royal Household Brigade, Royal Swedish Army Medical Corps. You can also reach me on: I have no restrictions on the number of questions there.

I also answer questions in these categories: Oncology (General Cancer), General History, Military History, Brain Tumors, Breast Cancer.

I'm a medical doctor and a specialist in medical oncology & radiation therapy.

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