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Stage 1 Colon Cancer.

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My dad had stage 1 colon cancer 4 years ago and had surgery to remove it. He has been free of cancer since then. He had open heart surgery in November of 2013. He had a cea blood tumor marker test done in January of 2014 and came back with a level of 3.1. He also had a ct scan done in January of 2014 that came back clear. The doctor wanted him to repeat his cea test in February of 2014 and it came back with a level of 5.0. He also had a bad respiratory infection at the time of the second cea lab test. His doctor wants him to have a pet scan done Tuesday. My question is should we be worried that his colon cancer has returned with a cea level of 5.0. We are very concerned.

Category: Gastroenterologist, Surgical

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Category: Family Physician-GP
 23 Doctors Online

I need few clarification before I advice
1) what was the CEA level before 3.1?
2) usually CEA levels are measured every 3 monthly basis. So what was the reason to repeat the CEA with in one month duration?
3) does your father has any complaints?

Dr. Lokesh

Patient replied :

It was 2.5 1 year ago in January. His doctor wanted to repeat the test 1 month later because he said his levels were a little high. He does not have any complaints.

Hello, thankyou for your reply.
With all your information following are my advices
1) CEA levels are increasing from 2.5 to 3.1 and now 5.0. Though they are increasing but its in normal range
2) this level of CEA is not alarming, he doesn't have any complaints, also the CT scanning done in January 2014 is normal and he had only stage 1 colon cancer, please don't worry his cancer might not have come back
3) in my opinion repeat the CEA level with one month duration from last test, if it's still near 5.0 you can get the PET-CT Scan, if it's near 3.0 you just need to repeat the CEA level every 3 monthly basis
4) even if there is cancer recurrence, good number of options for cure are available for colon cancer recurrences
I wish good health for your father

Dr. Lokesh

Patient replied :

I have one more question. Could the rise in my dad's cea level be contributed to his bad upper respiratory infection at the time the second lab work was done?

Normal CEA levels are higher in smokers. In your father's case, Yes may be because of severe lung infection. Not to worry, repeat the CEA level by this month end when in good general condition.

Dr. Andrew Lewis
Category: Family Physician-GP
Dr. Andrew Lewis and 4 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you

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