Oncology (General Cancer)/CEA test


Hello, I am a 37 year olf female who smokes 15-18 cigarettes a days. At my recent annual check up, it was discovered that my CEA level was 9.4 2 months later it was re-checked and came back at 8.7. I have a colonoscopy scheduled for next month.

other than asthma and recurrent pregmamcy loss, I have no health issues. How worried should I be?

At your age I'd doubt that you have colon cancer, but a colonoscopy is worth doing.  Your cea elevation is most likely a consequence of your smoking.  We know that some chronic smokers will have mildly elevated CEA's which are relatively stable.  You would be wise to discontinue this habit.  It isn't clear as to whether an elevated CEA in a smoker is a predictor of lung cancer, but it does tell us that your lung tissue is being irritated.  Asthma doesn't help either, because this makes it harder for the natural cleansing mechanisms of the lung to get rid of the carcinogens.  I'd stop smoking, have the CEA checked again in six months, and if it stable or decreasing, it's probably nothing.  If it continues to rise, careful surveillance is in order, including (perhaps) a special CT of the lung fields.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.


I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.


I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

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