My mother has stage 4 colon cancer, and has been monitoring her CEA count through blood work. Is this CEA count also a way of checking for any cancer throughout the body, because it would make me feel a lot better to get a blood test and know that I am clean.
CEA is useful for detecting new tumor activity in a person with a history of colon cancer, however I do not believe it is an effective cancer screening tool in the general population. Good luck to your mother.
The CEA test is mainly used to monitor for recurrences for patients with a history of cancer and who began with an elevated CEA before the start of therapy. There is a group of patients with colon cancer which do not have an elevated CEA, and monitoring with the CEA for them does not have a clear value.
CEA has been evaluated as a means to screen for colon cancer, and it has not been able to perform well, and hence it never became recommended to screen people without cancer. The clear tests would be stool examination looking for blood and scopes (which directly visualize the colon) if you are looking for a means of screening for yourself.
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