We've covered this topic in a few places here on GRACE, but the issue of whether and how to use serum tumor markers in lung cancer comes up often and is the source of a fair bit of confusion. Although I also mention it in a post I just did, here's a video on the subject that I just did for Swedish Medical Center, where I work.
I hope the discussion is useful for people in this format.
Sun, 01/06/2013 - 13:59
Interesting post, Dr. West. Thank you.
Can the absolutely absence of the CEA marker in the blood tests suggest that we may deal with a lung cancer that is not particularly aggressive?
Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:56
I would say no. First, there is a "normal" CEA level, so you don't expect it to be undetectable, but the issue is that some lung cancers make CEA and others don't. There's some spotty evidence, which I would say isn't especially conclusive, that suggests that the cancers making CEA are more aggressive, but CEA measurement just isn't something that is routinely recommended as a standard (even if it's fine to do), largely because there is no consensus that it leads to any useful practical application right now.