What happens when tumor markers go up on hormone therapy

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Hello. I first posted here back in September or so when my mom was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer 25 plus years later. Shes in her early 70's. She was strongly ER + and surprise Her 2 +. Her 15.3 marker was near 800 at diagnosis! She had extensive skeletal mets and liver ( 2 areas) and on the CT of chest tiny to small to call spots ( probable mets), so PET couldnt determine for sure..

She was placed on Herceptin, Zometa and Arimidex and Faslodex. After 3 weeks she couldnt take the side effects and decided to stay on the Faslodex and off the Arimidex. Her markers since late September were being followed q 3 weeks showing a nice steady decline ( never into normal, 15.3 went down to 70, normal less than 35). She really did better than I thougjt. Got off the Fentanyl patch and percocets. Eating well and enjoying life. In fact, in February and March she literally seemed like her old self. 

Just two weeks ago, some crushing news and Im not sure how to interpret it. For the first time, her 15.3 marker went up from 70s to 90! I assume this means she is failing the hormonal treatment and we were told that average time to fail that is about 18 months. The oncologist has said nothing thus far. My mom knows it went up and I think is scared. I personally think onco is waiting to see this weeks numbers to see the trend before he pushes panic button. Im disappointed she didnt get very much time from the Faslodex. 

As a supportive daughter, I was wondering if any of you ladies have been continued on some sort of anti estrogen med even if on them your markers went up. I heard that sometimes they will try Arimidex if for example she had a Faslodex failure? I feel guilty for feeling so sad and pessimistic since so much Stage 4 is being turned into chronic disease scenarios. Im scared she will refuse any further treatment thinking falsely they will not help. I want her to be in charge of her own care and decisions but I want her to be rational about it ( shes done well and us at a point where she could tolerate treatment).

Thank you gals for any advice and for sharing anything you may have experienced similar to moms story. Im just needing some inspiration I guess, as a daughter who wants to do all I can for my mom:-) 

Comments

  • New Flower
    New Flower Member Posts: 4,294
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    Hi and welcome back

    I am glad that your mom was doing well. One blood test is not the trend of failie that is why your oncologist still waits to verufy if there is a trend. There are other drugs or combinations, please be optimistic, I hope she will try if there is a need to switch therapy. I am currentely on Faslodex too and we are wanching markers and symptoms, in case if it stops working. the next step will be Afinitor plus Aromatisin.

    Good luck and please come back for support and advice. You are a very good daugther.

  • Gottahavefaith
    Gottahavefaith Member Posts: 24
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    Hi and welcome back

    I am glad that your mom was doing well. One blood test is not the trend of failie that is why your oncologist still waits to verufy if there is a trend. There are other drugs or combinations, please be optimistic, I hope she will try if there is a need to switch therapy. I am currentely on Faslodex too and we are wanching markers and symptoms, in case if it stops working. the next step will be Afinitor plus Aromatisin.

    Good luck and please come back for support and advice. You are a very good daugther.

    Thank you

    I am grateful for the response and hope. I see my mom feeling fatigued so of course I feel the markers going up mean something.

    She has her markers checked today. We usually get the results on her Friday appointments, but sometimes the 15.3 is delayed ( they run the tests in batches and sometimes we get result sometimes we dont on Friday). We do always get her CEA however. This onco also likes CA 125 too for whatever reason. Ive not heard of many getting this checked unless Ovarian cancer is present but he follows it too.

    Will let you know how things go. I dont want her to give up but I know that she has mentioned she doesnt even want to have to get imaged again. If they propose rebiopsy, she will I fear decline it As well as weekly chemo. I guess all I can do is support and help her through decisions. The only thing keeping me from crying nonstop are the stories on this board. Ladies living decent quality of life who have been through some really challenging setbacks. 

    How well are these other drugs tolerated? She had horrible time with Arimidex and after 3 weeks quit. onc wanted her on combo Faslodex and AI therapy since those studies showing better survival.