I know CEA isnt always a good measure of bowel cancer but just reading now about yet another forum member being diagnosed with mets after a rise in CEA and it makes me wonder why the test isnt used more often??
When someone (especially young) has symptoms and are at the moment being fobbed off with it is IBS/piles/anal fissure/"you are too young" why dont GP's do more CEA tests?
If its too high a cost for the NHS how much is a private test?
Last month I got a copy of a graph from the Oncologist showing C's CEA since he was diagnosed in 2012. Although it started fairly low it has risen with each recurrence. Seeing it on a graph I can pinpoint exactly when the mets started growing when it went up and when he had surgery when it went down.
The worse one was after the bowel resection when C was under the colorectal surgeon who was back 'in charge' after the initial adjuvent chemo. When we saw him for check ups I always asked about C having a CEA test and he said no he didnt do them as he thought 6 month CT scans were better. We also asked the GP and he said it was up to the consultant in charge so no.
When an 'unclear area' in the liver appeared on the scan still no CEA test just a CT retest. We got a letter from the surgeon to say 'no change' on the retest which we thought was clear but we found out later meant the dodgy area was still there. Next CT scan the same with a letter saying 'certainly no return of cancer'.
After a dodgy lung area later appeared resulting in a PET scan (showing the liver met as well) a blood test showed a rise in CEA and I think it was 15 before the lung op.
Looking at the CEA graph I can see the big rise covering the gap while the surgeon refused to do tests. We will never know if things would have been different if the rise had been noticed earlier so the liver met wasnt left for nearly 18 months before surgery.
I have a regular annual (NHS) CA 125 test to check for ovarian cancer due to a known cyst. I wonder if CEA tests are available on NHS with or without symptoms? Or are they available privately?