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Had surgery for goiter removal, no cancer found. Scan showed growing thyroid. Blood test normal. Cancer?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2001
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Hello. I have hashmitos thyroiditis which resulted in a goider about 2.5 years ago. I had surgery to remove the goiter and No cancer was found. I have had scans since then and the scans are showing that my thyroid is growing again but there are no growths so my doc is not concerned. I also had diveriticulitis for a few years which resulted in a colon resection a year ago. I have a colostomy now and will be reversed in the next few months. No cancer was found at the time of surgery either...I also had endometriosis which resulted in a total hystercetomy about 10 years ago....needless to say, I was concerned that I might have cancer since my thyroid is growing and so I actually looked up certain blood tests that could detect doc allowed me to get the bloodwork...all my thyroid levels were good and my calcitonin was normal, however my CEA level was 4.01. Should I be concerned?
Posted Mon, 25 Feb 2013 in Cancer
Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James 54 minutes later
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

It is understandable to be concerned.
CEA stands for carcinoembryonic antigen.Although originately thought to be found in in the fetus and in cancer tissues, subsequent studies demonstrated that it or a similar molecule can be found in healthy tissues though at much lower levels than in persons with cancer.

The reference ranges for this blood test can vary from lab to lab.
Though most persons would quote less than 2.5 as normal for non smokers and less than 5 for smokers, studies have shown that 95% of normal persons have levels less than 5.
Levels greater than 10 are said to indicate the possibility of cancer but the test is not recommended to be used as a tool to screen a person for cancer.
The reason for this :CEA , which can rise in non cancer conditions, if not good enough to distinguish between cancer and non cancer.

It's main use is monitoring a person who has been diagnosed with cancer to check their response to treatment.

Your value, though higher than the value quoted by most labs, in unlikely to be related to cancer.
If you remain concerned you can have your doctor repeat the tests to observe any trend.

I hope this helps you, please feel free to ask any other questions
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