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Blood Work

CherylMike
Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

I had my Thyroid removed and Radiation 4 months ago. My endo had her nurse draw blood for a baseline reading. When I asked the nurse what test were being done (as she drew 4 or 5 vials of blood) she told me my Thyroid levels, calcium levels, and then said "to see if the cancer has come back". She said they would have the results in 2 weeks. Has anyone heard of this? How can they tell if the cancer has come back using a blood test? I was pretty comfortable that I was ok, until this came up. Now I am back to the scared place (where I do not want to be). I know cancer is a "wait and see" game. (My husband died of head and neck cancer 1.5 years ago and waiting for results is really gut wrenching).

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

I would definately call your endocrinologist and ask her, first thing Monday. If you don't want to get the nurse in trouble, then don't mention what she/he said. Just ask the doc what each blood test was and why it was ordered and if you don't understand her answer, tell her. Part of your doctor's responsibility is to keep you informed, but you need to make sure they do it.

Alan

PS Don't go by what the nurse said, this person may not even be a nurse, just a blood drawing tech.

CherylMike
Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

Alan~ I will call on Monday and ask for clarification, but I think Julie's response might be correct that she is checking for a thyroglobulin level. Thank you for your response!
~Cheryl

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 229
Joined: Mar 2011

Cheryl,

I think the phrase "baseline reading" is very important. They need to see where you are to start so they can see if anything changes in the future. I really don't think you have anything to worry about at this time, but you need to hear this from your endocrinologist.

Alan

sunnyaz
Posts: 582
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi CherylMike,

It doesn't take two weeks for blood work to come back. I have my patients labs back within one or two days. The only way they will know if the cancer has returned from blood work is by your Thyroglobulin levels and even that is inconclusive. Sometimes white blood cells can be an indicator but that is usually to test for infection, internal bleeding and other things, not cancer. Four or five vials indicates to me that they did a great deal of testing. Thyroglobulin only takes one tube and up to five tests can be done from one full SST (Serum Separator Tube) tube. I would call you doctor and insist on getting those results. Get a copy when you have your next appointment as well. Remember not to worry, that will only cause you more stress and won't help you.

What type of cancer did your husband start with? You said Head and Neck. Did it begin with Thyroid?

Blessings,
Julie-SunnyAZ

CherylMike
Posts: 118
Joined: Oct 2009

Julie, thank you for your response. The reason for the 2 week waiting period is that the blood was sent to CA for these tests. (I also live in AZ, Gilbert) I have been following your battle and want to tell you that you are truly a strong person. Your courage is inspiring. I am trying to follow your lead (I also have the B-RAF gene), but was very upset following this last doctor visit.

My husband had Head and Neck (the primary tumor was at the base of his tongue). It had spread under his arm when he was diagnosed. (He had seen his doctor months earlier asking about the swelling in his neck - it was dismissed as lingering infection from a tooth issue). He fought for over 2 years. Squamous cell is very aggressive and the treatment is brutal.

I am praying for you. Take care Julie
~Cheryl

sunnyaz
Posts: 582
Joined: Oct 2010

It's nice to know someone who also lives in Arizona is on the boards. I am in the Green Valley area just south of Tucson. The town is called Sahuarita. I am only 45 minutes from the University Of Arizona Medical center and Cancer Center. I feel like I got lucky in that aspect. I have had really good care there. I always get a private room at the new Diamond center and they pretty much treat me like a queen and let me do whatever I want when I am there.

It sounds like your husband went through a great deal. I am so sorry you had to go through that and now what you have to go through without him. I recently learned that an old fiance of mine passed away five years ago from a rare form of brain cancer that is typically found in children. He was 37 and diagnosed with Medulloblastoma. Only 1 case in 2 million adults each year. I hadn't seen him in years but it really hit me hard when I found out the news. We were almost married back in the early 90's but situations in life forced us apart. I ended up marrying a wonderful man almost 17 years ago who has been very supportive of me. God works in mysterious ways I guess. I feel very blessed.

I am going for another Sonogram and possibly an FNA next Tuesday at my Oncologists office. I just hope the cancer hasn't come back again. It's that whole waiting thing like you mentioned. The good news is that my Thyroglobulin levels are still below 1 but my Endo says that's not a real answer as to whether or not the cancer is back. I found the lump in my neck a little over a week ago and an Ultrasound revealed two more near it.

Thanks for your prayers. I will pray for you too. Stay strong.

Blessings,
Julie-SunnyAZ

alapah's picture
alapah
Posts: 260
Joined: Oct 2009

Thyroglobulin levels over zero generally indicate continued presence of thyroid cells somewhere the body. Only thyroid cells produce it. My Endo always sends my blood sample directly to the lab at the University of Southern California (USC). They do take about two weeks to turn around a sample. They use a very accurate assay and they bank your blood samples, always rerunning your last sample when they run a new sample, for a comparison. The key with Tg testing, according to my Endo, is to use the same lab and assay every time in order to have a reliable comparison. The presence of Tg doesn't necessarily mean a cancer recurrence as it only measures thyroid cell activity, not cancerous cell activity. Here is a good resource for help understanding thyroid tests and labs: http://www.thyca.org/labtests.htm

The rest of my labs are done locally. I always ask for and keep copies of my lab results. I have entire record sets for my thyroid cancer journey. It's important to know what is going on and what it all means if you can. A patient inevitably needs to be his or her own advocate.
Best to you. Hang in there.

nasher
Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

When they do my blood tests my hospital dose a dual check both the local hospital lab and Quest Diagnostics in Washington do separate tests for Tg, T3 and T4 and other thyroid tests so that’s 2 of the tubes.
For me they also test calcium vitamin d and magnesium (1 lab only)and that is another 2 tubes.

They also normally test Glucose and creatine, sodium, potassium, chloride, and a few others I think that’s 1-3 more tube(s).

So for me they normally take 5-9 tubes for the blood work they do on me.

Ask the nurse who is drawing your blood what each tube is for if you’re curious. The label they put on each tube will state what tests it is for.

As for lab results if it is only the local hospital they probably will have results in a day or 2.. if it has to be shipped then it will take about 1-1.5 weeks, because of this they say two weeks that way there is time for extra reviews if necessary and for delays in the postal system.

Yes Alapha you are right they can’t tell whether the thyroid cells are cancerous or not but if they are increasing there is a higher likelihood that they could be.

Craig

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