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Elevated CEA level?
Old 09-27-2011, 09:01 PM   #1
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Elevated CEA level?

Bummer. Getting ready to go part time on the early retirement thing. I had an insurance physical at work and one lab did a CEA screen. It came back seriously elevated. This can be a marker for colon cancer or several others. I last had a colonoscopy 6 years ago; the interval is either 5 or 10 years, depending on various things. My last one was clear and the gastro doc told me it takes at least 10 years for a polyp to become malignant if it ever does.

I'm starting the testing, etc., tomorrow. First is the appointment with the gastro doc. He'll schedule a colonoscopy within a few days I suspect. Then my primary doc wants me to have a full body scan of every single organ. The CEA was 6.1 and I got it retested; it went up to 7.something.

Has anyone had this where it really turned out to be from a benign condition? I'm worried. My wife is worried. The primary doc is worried. This is pretty scary stuff.
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Old 09-27-2011, 09:04 PM   #2
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I hope, everything turns out OK.
What is CEA, please?
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Old 09-27-2011, 09:07 PM   #3
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Wow! Definitely scary stuff. Let's hope that the CEA is in error for some reason. I'll be hoping for the best for you.
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Old 09-27-2011, 09:26 PM   #4
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I have seen a number of reports of CEA false negatives -- a low CEA result even though cancer was present -- but I can't recall any false positives, unfortunately. Still, a value of 6.1 is not all that high -- it can get up into the hundreds. I think you're right to be worried. I see you've posted a question at the Colon Club, and that should get you some educated responses. After having rectal cancer 5 years ago, I've had many CEA tests, with results which have ranged from 0.4 to 1.4.

Just get the colonoscopy and go from there.
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Old 09-27-2011, 09:33 PM   #5
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Carcinoembrionic antigen - while often positive in many type of digestive and liver problems it is a very poor screening test -- way too many false positives. It is much more useful for following the course of known disease. I hope yours is one such false alarm.

Best of luck. I am sorry the insurance company has put you through this.
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Old 09-28-2011, 01:53 PM   #6
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Rich, that is exactly what the gastro doc said today. He says it is a really sh**ty test for diagnostic purposes and should be used only for following how well treatment for a diagnosed cancer is going. He assured me it is nothing to worry about, that he sees 10 or 12 people a year with unexplained elevations. He says all types of inflammations can cause it.

Anyway, I'm getting my every 5 year colonoscopy (1 year late!) next week and he's doing an endoscopy at the same time. If negative, he said he probably won't recommend any further tests and will "negotiate" with my primary doctor. The primary is a gp type and she scared the you know what out of me. I feel a lot better now. BTW, he also said what you said about the insurance company. They never should have done the test in the first place.

Maybe I will get to retire!
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Old 09-28-2011, 04:19 PM   #7
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This is certainly encouraging! Now if these tests just go well, you'll be in the clear.
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Old 09-29-2011, 02:53 PM   #8
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STill have to have the tests, but at least I won't worry as much.

This episode also made me start to think again about retirement thing. As loyal as I feel to the place I've worked since 1975, their lives will go on without me should I die tomorrow and their lives will go on without me when I retire. I would much rather their lives go on without me because of retirement.

And just when does it stop being FIRE and become FI retire too late? That should maybe be another thread.
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