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HomeAnswersMedical GastroenterologyceaMy CEA values are increasing while on chemotherapy. Why?

Why might CEA values increase during chemotherapy?


The following is an actual conversation between an iCliniq user and a doctor that has been reviewed and published as a Premium Q&A.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Nithila. A

Published At September 29, 2019
Reviewed AtApril 16, 2024

Patient's Query

Hello doctor,

On chemotherapy, CEA is rising. The patient had colon cancer surgery last year and was in the third stage. A PET scan showed one metastasis in the liver of 16 mm and one distant node. The chemotheraphy was started last year. CEA is rising instead of decreasing. The CEA values were 9.8, 8, 9, 10 in the consecutive months. What happens if chemotherpay does not work?


Welcome to icliniq.com.

Stage III colon cancer will have elevated CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) levels. However, following surgery and on chemotherapy, it should gradually come down. 10 is not very high. Still, post-surgery the standards should have been around six. Now since it is increasing, some other causes of rising CEA such as hepatitis, and peptic ulcer disease, or diverticulitis needs to be ruled out. If all these causes are ruled out, then in all probability there is a recurrence of cancer. So once again, MRI needs to be done to check for recurrence. It can happen in the failure of chemotherapy. Feel free to discuss further,

Same symptoms don't mean you have the same problem. Consult a doctor now!

Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy
Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy

General Practitioner

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