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My oncologists view on tumor markers.....

pinkflutterby's picture
Posts: 615
Joined: Jun 2009

My oncologist, who I have said how much I love her, does the marker test once a month, she said they are good at monitoring some people and not so good in others. in my case the markers have always been dead on that something is going on in my body. She says in some people they dont help at all. She always follows up a drastic jump with a scan. She doesnt even do them in some of her cases, I always ask about mine because mine seem to coinside with my treatment. Mine are 143 currently, but I know they go much higher. Mine have been as low as 17 and way up in the 100's. A friend of my dad's had them in the 1000's. Also from what I understand, everyone has tumor markers in their blood, even those without active cancer. When they are elevated is when something is going on. I like seeing them go down, gives me hope Ü then again when they jump I worry......

Posts: 402
Joined: Nov 2010

I've got a PET scan on Monday to see if my onc can figure out why my markers have trended up instead of down, now that I'm done with Chemo.
I'm terrified of something else that is wrong...and I'm hoping that I'm one of those people who markers aren't good for monitoring. Or maybe my sinus infection at the time of the test affected it.
Perhaps we'll know more after the PET and possible a bone scan if necessary.
Boy this waiting for results, stinks. And all the stress it causes is really hard. My markers haven't gone done since my lumpectomies (test was 9/10). They started at 31, were 36 on 1/7 my last chemo treatment and are now 41 as of 1/25.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it is nothing since my mammo was clear on 1/14/11.

chenheart's picture
Posts: 5180
Joined: Apr 2003

My oncologist says the very same thing~ with BC, tumor markers are not always very accurate, and for that reason, some oncologists don't use them at all. But in that regard, I am like you, Pink~ they are a pretty good touchstone as far as my particular health is concerned. My markers run in the high teens, low twenties~ when they spike my Dr either runs tests to see if it is an anomoly ( which it has been known to be) or "something else." With my lymphnode being cancerous, it came as no surprise to my oncologist that my markers are now in the 50's.


Posts: 4376
Joined: Jun 2009

My oncologist doesn't believe in them, so, he doesn't do them. He says they are not accurate, as, many oncologists believe.

But, if your oncologist does them, that is all that counts Libby.

We have to trust our doctors and trust their decisions.

Praying for you daily Libby!

Hugs, Jan

Christmas Girl's picture
Christmas Girl
Posts: 3691
Joined: Apr 2009

... combines both science and "art"... Science = biological technology. "Art" = the knowledge, skill and experience of the practicing physician.

As my own med onc (BC specialist) said to me, in the earliest days of my journey, so many years ago: "There is no such thing as 'cookie cutter' treatment in this day and age." Which is why I've so often cautioned the Kindred Spirits here not to compare themselves and their recommended treatments directly to others.

The marker test is, indeed, "controversial"... However, as both Libby and Chen have described in detail for all of us - they can be quite useful, and dependable, in some cases, for some patients. Yet, not always, and not for everyone. Which is exactly why the test is still around, hasn't been eliminated completely.

To all those whose doctors do not use the marker tests, and if this concerns you - please, just ask.

Kind regards, Susan

pinkkari09's picture
Posts: 878
Joined: Sep 2009

I was wondering....cuz my onc didn't do them in the beginning of my journey, said they can send her on a wild goose chase. I must be one of the ones that they don't elevate, with my recent bone mets, my markers were 17, sure wish they would elevate instead of only having scans to go off of. Sometimes I wonder about the scans too, Pet scans only go from your jaw to your thighs, would be nice if they went from my brain to my big toe, never know, right? Sorry for your recent scare dear and I hope you are doing well!!
Mountains of Love,

KathiM's picture
Posts: 8077
Joined: Aug 2005

for the jump. My markers on both cancers were very low...not a good indicator for me...BUT, as already said, should one spike, it's time for a serious look!

Dutch hugs, Kathi

CandaceMM's picture
Posts: 68
Joined: Jan 2011

So, is your onc going to change anything in your treatment? I'm new here and curious.

CandaceMM's picture
Posts: 68
Joined: Jan 2011

I saw your thread about this after my post.

Good luck! Love, candace

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

Tumor markers are appropriate in many, but not all cases. ASCO's guidelines:

What to Know: ASCO's Guideline on Tumor Markers for Breast Cancer

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