Oncology (General Cancer)/colon

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Question
""Dear Dr.
My mother had colon cancer 5 years ego. after surgery and chemothropy, she's better. Now in test cea= 1 (normal <5) and
ca 19-9=103 (normal <37). what is the mean? she had a scan text 2 month ago and in reply was good. there is no any tomor in scan

Thanks a lot""

Answer
The normal CEA is reassuring.  The elevated Ca 19-9 could reflect a malignancy, but the CT scan being normal suggests that it isn't.  Although CA-19-9 is elevated in many malignant diseases, it also goes up in people who have hepatitis, cirrhosis, or obstruction of the bile ducts.  Some women have chronic mild gall bladder disease in which case the number may be elevated.  I would suggest that the marker be repeated in a month or so; if it is still going up, I'd suggest a PET scan.  If it is down a bit or stable, it's probably not cancer.  Hope this helps. (I would be surprised to see colon cancer recur after 5 years.  However, a new colon canceer is always possible, and she should be getting colonoscopies at regular intervals.)

Oncology (General Cancer)

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Donald Higby, M.D.

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
American Society of Clinical Oncology

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

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

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

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