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Blood Tests

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I see my oncologist next week.I always get a blood test.It isn't to check for markers but a routine test I am told.Do any of you know if estrogen levels are detected/looked for in those routine blood tests. I asked my doctor the last time I saw her IF she was checking for return of cancer.She said NO I don't need that test.Non invasive Stage 0 DCIS.1/2 cm tumor. BUT I am interested in knowing if my estrogen levels are down with taking tamoxifin.AND if the routine blood test tells that.

I guess our estrogen level is found out after surgery by testing the cancerous tumor etc but wanted to know if they keep up on the levels afterward or just feel the tamoxfin is doing its job.

I started thinking about this when some of you said your levels were HIGH.I then wondered "are we monitered as time goes on with treatment and doc appts".

Lynn Smith

missrenee's picture
Posts: 2137
Joined: Apr 2010

I may be wrong, but I think they can do a special blood test to check for hormone levels (including estrogen). Funny you brought this up--I have my follow-up appointment again in May and have been on Arimidex for 9 months and was going to ask my onc. to check my estrogen levels. I just kind of want to know that I am taking this drug for a good reason--that estrogen better be pretty much gone!

Hugs, Renee

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I will do my best to find out something.Been 6 months since I've seen her and I don't want to forget.I have to many things on my mind too. She told me once IF I want the marker test she would do it but really wasn't needed.If I made me feel comfortable she would order it.

If they take our blood why not add another test with the speciman.Probably be a extra vial. That's all.

I've been on tamox 16 months.

Honestly we should be checked.To be sure our treatment is working.

Lynn Smith

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

I have no idea what they test or look for and all they tell me is my lab work came back good...

which I could help you out..

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I always get my blood work when I go to the oncologist.I don't hear if it is good or not so have to assume it is. I did ask my doctor what the test showed.She said she does complete blood work.I'm thinking it is just a routine test.No estrogen levels.

Need to be our own advocate and get tested.When I went to my surgeon and asked a question about radiation tests/procedures he asked me if I was still taking my tamoxifin.IMO tamox can't block radiation.It's a estrogen blocker.

Lynn Smith

crselby's picture
Posts: 438
Joined: Oct 2009

I too was DCIS stage 0. My onc does blood test once a year, and not even then if my other docs have done them (he gets ALL reports). He told me it was just for liver counts. To make sure I am tolerating the Tamoxifen. Been on it 15 months and had one blood test by him.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

Glad to hear another was DCIS Stage 0.For awhile I thought I was the only one.


Curious.Did you have chemo or radiation? It was toss up for radiation then the surgeon decided not to and sent me to a oncologist he had discussed my case with. He also brought it up at a Doctor's Convention.I felt comfortable.Just wandered about your situation.

Lynn Smith

jendrey's picture
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

The blood test that you do before your Dr. appt. is likely for a CBC* and possibly a Panel 14 (CMP)**. At least, that's what is usually ordered on my lab form. These two particular blood tests do not check for estrogen.

But, like you I also thought they should be checking what my estrogen levels were. Especially since I was being prescribed Tamoxifen which I refused to have filled. And then Arimidex which I also elected not to take since they were, at best guessing, if I was truly menopausal or not. (I wasn't before the chemo.) Tamoxifen is for premenopausal as Arimidex is for postmenopausal.

So,...near the bottom of my lab form is a section titled: "Other" and that is where I just write in the names of the tests needed to help me determine my estrogen status; FSH¹, LH², and Estradiol³.

They have yet to realize that I'm the one who 'ordered' the tests. Perhaps, one day when they've managed to gain more competency they may then realize it but even then I doubt it.

Does your lab form have an 'other' section? (Of course, I'm kidding! =)

You should really discuss with your Dr. how you feel for your own peace of mind and maybe ask if these tests could also be performed so that you then can have an idea of your true estrogen levels. And more importantly so that a full discussion can ensue regarding your estrogen.

For a complete rundown of what these tests are EXACTLY go to:


(notice the URL ends in .org and NOT in .com)
Hope this helps.

*Complete Blood Count
**Panel 14 (CMP)
¹Follicle-stimulating hormone
²Luteinizing hormone
³Estrogen fractions

Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

I'm confused...you said Tamoxifen is for pre menopausal women...every woman I know persoanally that take it are Post menopausal...personally not on it...

Posts: 3660
Joined: Aug 2009

I could be wrong but my understanding was that Tamoxifen was used with both pre and post Menopausal women. Not positive as I'm on Femara and was 18 years past Menopause when DX'd. Chemo Dr never really talked much about the other drugs as he wanted me on Femara if I could afford it - I can - my copay is the same for it as for a bottle of Potassium or any script I get. I do remember being told/read that there are some that are for pre, some for pre and/or post and some that are only for post (Femara).


CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

While on tamoxifen, most docs monitor your CBC (complete blood count) and a standard chemistry panel (CMP).

The CBC is done to make sure that your platelets and white blood cell count stay normal because tamoxifen can sometimes affect those counts. Usually a chemistry panel is done to monitor your LFT's (liver function tests) because tamoxifen can cause an elevation.

These reactions do not happen routinely, but they can happen, so it is important to monitor your CBC and CMP.

I don't know if you are on any other meds, but most all of our cancer meds can do similar things to our CBC and CMP, so both are ordered fairly frequently.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011


You are right both can take tamoxifin.At least I took it and I had a total hysterocomy.I was OK with it because of the uterine cancer risk(even though that is a small risk).My niece (only 30) was put on it but she had serious side effects.So pre and postmenopausal are prescribed tamoxifin.

What I found out at my doc appt yesterday:

I went to my doctor yesterday and had things explained to me about the blood tests. It is a CBC everytime I see my oncologist and she checks everything but not my markers since I have DCIS non invasive.That might be started though.I'm not 2 years into my cancer dx but as time goes on I want to be checked for markers.

There isn't a blood test to check for estrogen only(like I wondered with this post). Other things are looked at to see if all is OK.From what my doctor told me yesterday we all have estrogen(I thought mine would be low and almost none) with a total hysteroctomy. Not so.Our bodies have it(always) but when we take tamoxifin it doesn't rid or lower us of estrogen(like I thought) BUT blocks estrogen.I repeated this to my doctor and she agreed. I understand now. I know a bit more than I knew when I posted this question.I wondered if others were tested for estogen levels. So tamoxifin BLOCKS our estrogen levels.

Cypress Cynthia.

Yes just what I found out yesterday about blood tests.Liver levels and blood count(checks for anemia).Also checks estrogen.With those being on tamox the doctor must check to see if the tamox is working to block our estrogen.

Yesterday when I walked out of my doc office I had my blood tests results in my hand.Amazing they can do this as we are seeing the doctor.It used to be I got my test done after seeing her but they've moved and do things different.I get my blood test before.I saw all my levels and I was within range.Low on some, medium on other things and kinda high on a couple things but within reason.Must be OK because she didn't say I had any problems.

Now I need to learn what those abbreviations are and how good or bad I rank??????? Clueless on that.

Lynn Smith

cahjah75's picture
Posts: 2631
Joined: Jun 2010

I had bloodwork every week for 4 months! My MO is part of a Blood Disorders group. My tests were for white & red blood cells, crit, etc. They are not for estrogen as far as I know. Mine didn't check hormone levels.

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

If that needs to be done I want it done.I want to know about estrogen.

I would think if doctors are going to put you on a med like tamox they would want to moniter your blood work to see if things are OK.I used to be anemic.Every month(for awhile) I went in for a blood test.I was told to take a iron tablet and did but I was monitored till my count got up to where it was supposed to be.But the test was done monthly not every 6 months.

I am sure I asked my doc yesterday "then you can tell with my CBC if things are OK"?I aked her about the blood test I get.And mentioned estrogen.She said we do a CBC.I then said "Oh that will tell something".She said Yes.Yesterday on that paper I was given(regards to blood test) there were 20 things that were listed and tested.

I hope I am not back to square one.I won't see her again for 6 months. I am going to ask my friend but she had a invasive breast cancer(16 years) and she gets the marker test etc.

Lynn Smith

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

The only problem is that tamoxifen is not really an estrogen lowering drug.

Tamoxifen works by binding with receptor sites on estrogen. Cancer uses the receptor sites to attach to your estrogen. With tamoxifen blocking the receptor sites, the cancer can not feed on your estrogen.

In other words, if estrogen has a door with a lock on it, tamoxifen is a broken key that fits that lock and doesn't let cancer in. This is a simplistic explanation, but, the long and short of it is, tamoxifen can have estrogen enhancing effects such as stronger bones and estrogen negating effects such as hot flashes. Confusing isn't it?

So I'm not sure what normal levels of estrogen should be while on tamoxifen?? My onc didn't follow them.

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