A tumour marker of 6.5 (CEA), does it necessarily mean cancer?

Hello everyone.My mother recently observed an elargement of one of her lymph nodes at the base of her neck.She had her blood tested yesterday but everything was normal apart from her tumour markers.It was 6.5.Does this necessarily mean cancer or can markers go up due to another reasons as well?For example, can an elargement of a lymph nodes make your tumour markers go up?

Thanks in advance!

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Tumor markers are not specific enough to be diagnostic and they are only used as tools in diagnosing or treating cancer. Yes factors other than cancer can cause a CEA to rise. A normal CEA is <2.5 for non-smokers and <5.0 in smokers. So your mother’s is elevated, but not too much. It is an indication that something is wrong now she will need other tests to find out what it is, but it is not necessarily cancer.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    usually 5-10 is the normal range depending on the laboratories just some caveats; 1. tumor markers are only numbers and nothing is absolute 2. some chemotherapy can increase cea like oxaliplatin based regimen 3. smokers and benign disease can have some increase in value 4. most labs will cap CEA at around 3-10,000 5. however CEA that continue to rise is a sign that patient has progressive cancer and would warrant imaging studies like CT-scan or PET scan

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Only your doctor can biopsy this lymph nodes and give you the answer.

    What Is Cancer?

    Cancer is a group of many different diseases that have some important things in common. They all arise in cells, the body's basic unit of life. To understand different types of cancer, it is helpful to know about normal cells and what happens when they become cancerous.

    The body is made up of many types of cells. Normally, cells grow and divide to produce more cells only when the body needs them. This orderly process helps keep the body healthy. Sometimes cells keep dividing when new cells are not needed. These cells may form a mass of extra tissue called a growth or tumor. Tumors can be "benign" or "malignant".

    Benign tumors are not cancer. They can usually be removed, and in most cases, they don't come back. Most important, the cells in benign tumors do not invade other tissues and do not spread to other parts of the body. Benign breast tumors are not a threat to life.

    Malignant tumors are cancer. Cells in these tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system. That is how breast cancer spreads and forms secondary tumors in other parts of the body. The spread of cancer is called metastasis.

    Source(s): Cancer Society.com
  • 1 decade ago

    Your Mom should definitely get more tests, despite the CEA results. Lymph nodes can swell out of various reasons, it could be glandular fever for example, so she might want to get tested on the Epstein-Barr virus. Also she should get testes for borreliosis and toxoplasmosis. She should also see a ear/nose/throat doctor, to check for bacteria in her throat. Infections in this area can cause the lymph nodes to swell, around the throat, the neck, below the ears.

    Try not to panic about it. I've had swollen lymph nodes in my throat for about three months now and I am still going through all kinds of tests.

    Source(s): My Mom has had cancer for 20 years and is getting chemo. and I have had swollen glands in my throat/neck for the past months and I went through all these tests mentioned above. Next up is a biopsy :)
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  • 1 decade ago

    Tumor markers are very tricky. My past oncologist used to test them (that is how I had a misdiagnosis of mets), my current oncologist only uses them to see if chemo is working. Anything can make a tumor marker go up. I am not saying that your mom does or does not have cancer, but I think further testing is needed. Tumor markers are a tool, not a diagnosis. Good luck!!

  • zrepmd
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    Agree with Denise here. If your mom does not have a cancer history, then there was not a good reason to check CEA, as it is not a screening test for anything. However, now that it has been drawn, the results are what they are, so would suggest she get back to her doc to pursue further investigation.

    Source(s): Cancer doc
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