Tumor Markers, another question or two

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MiaB
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 205
   Posted 5/23/2005 6:23 AM (GMT -7)   
I was reading the other thread about tumor markers and am wondering when those tests are given.  I've never had any tests since the pre-admission tests before my biopsy.  Nothing, no tests at all since the diagnosis other than the x-rays during rads.  Well they did do a CT scan when getting ready for rads but I think it had more to do with getting the settings right not to look for anything.
 
So when will I have a tumor marker test?  When did you have your first one?
Mia
 
Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.


-Vesta M. Kelly


Tavish
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Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 5/23/2005 6:51 AM (GMT -7)   
Mia-
These seem to relate to the million dollar question.....tumor marker or not tumor marker. My onc does not do them. I have labs for liver enzymes and a couple other things, like a CBC. Scans or tests only if I have a symptom and of course annual mammo's. When I was going through treatment, I read about this "controversy" in a couple of books, and just seems that it is the doc's choice....some do not believe in the reliability or accuracy of them, others do them routinely. You may ask your onc at the next check up and see what his approach is.

L&H,
Lori


undefeated
Regular Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 200
   Posted 5/23/2005 8:09 AM (GMT -7)   
My onc started them after I was five years out. She said (Duke Cancer Center doc) that she had just started using them because of some study or other re early detection of recurrence, blah, blah; but only used them on patients five years out.

However, I'm going to ask at my next annual appt. in Aug. if they really are necessary, because I've read a LOT on tumor markers in the past year and it seems that the majority opinion is that, yes, they would detect recurrence early, but detecting recurrences early plays no part in prognosis - so my question is, why have them? I'll have that answer this August.

All this research on tumor markers occurred when mine went from their usual 34 to 49. Had to go back in, give more blood and retest. This time it came back at my usual numbers. Of course, I asked why the increase if not cancer related, and, guess what, labs make mistakes, the blood could have gotten contaminated, it could have coagulated quickly and --- anyway, lots of reasons.

My best to you, Glenda

Jo-Ann
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 829
   Posted 5/23/2005 9:38 AM (GMT -7)   
During treatment, I had tumor marker tests every two weeks. Now, I see the onc at least three times a year and I have tumor marker tests done every time I see him. According to him, this is an indication if the current chemo is working.

Hugs, Jo-Ann
A good friend will bail you out of jail...
but a true friend will be sitting
next to you saying,
"Dâmn... that was fun!".


debbiR
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 730
   Posted 5/23/2005 9:55 AM (GMT -7)   

Mia: My onco has used tumor markers since my diagnosis. When I was having a/c, I would always see her before the treatment. At that time, I had a whole range of bloodwork done, incl CEA, CA 27/29. She also continued to do this once my treatments were complete at every 3 mo visit. This was how we knew that there was a recurrance. My CEA counts went from 12 to 39 in a 3 mo period. I am now on weekly treatments but see my onco every 3 weeks. She still runs the tumor markers. I am a strong believer in these tests and am thrilled that my onco uses them.

Deb


 


Lmmackey
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 316
   Posted 5/23/2005 1:23 PM (GMT -7)   
Mia,

I had to ask to have them done when I saw the first onco and he was more than happy to oblige. The onco I chose "for keeps" does them routinely. Just try asking so that you can have a baseline, then discuss when follow-ups would be good. Sometimes we have to take charge of our own health care issues!

Take care, sweetie!

L&H,
Laure'
The finger of God touches your life when you make a friend.
----Mary Dawson Hughes---


cupycake2
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 955
   Posted 5/23/2005 7:52 PM (GMT -7)   
Mia,

Sorry can't help you with the tumor marker tests, isn't it terrible that I can't remember if they checked me with them. Guess it is a good thing that it has been THAT long ago!!!!!!!! WAHOO....20 years!

I do remember that I had regular blood work taken and it seemed like that went on for a long , long, long, long time. I also have lost track of just how many scans, xrays, etc that I have had taken.

Hope that your back is doing better.

Hugs and God Bless,
Debbie
^j^ ^j^
"What sweetness is left in life if you take away friendship? It is like robbing the world of the sun"
Cicero


MiaB
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 205
   Posted 5/23/2005 8:53 PM (GMT -7)   

Thanks everyone for all the info.  Seems there are conflicting opinions about the use of the test.  But I am seeing my onc. next Wednesday and will be asking him about it.  I'll let you all know what I find out.  It just seems odd to me that I'm 4 months out from diagnosis (tomorrow) and I haven't had any other tests to be sure (this is hard for me to even type) the cancer isn't somewhere else.  Sorry, thought I was doing so well with this but I guess I'm not.  I haven't had trouble like this since the first month.  It may have to do with this annoying back pain.  It's SO weird!  It started feeling a little better a couple days ago then it went right back to where it had been.  It is not something I feel unless I move a certain way or it is touched.  Then it doesn't feel at all like a pulled muscle or sore over worked muscle.  It feels like something inside is swollen and extremely sensitive to touch.  Along with it coming back I now have occasional sharp pains in the same region.  This all reminds me of pains I had a year or 2 back that my mom thought was my gallbladder. 

I can't wait to find out what is causing this. 

There's your answer Debbie.  Sorry it wasn't better news. 

Hugs,


Mia
 
Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.


-Vesta M. Kelly


debbiR
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 730
   Posted 5/23/2005 9:32 PM (GMT -7)   
Mia: Hang in there my friend. The feelings that you are having are totally normal. I felt the very same way once my  treatments stopped. I worried about every little ache and pain. As everyone has said, as time passes, there will be days that you won't even think about the cancer and there may be days (esp when you hurt) that it totally takes over your thoughts. But, don't be afraid to cry or yell or feel sorry for yourself. It's ok. I have had back and shoulder pain since my radiation. Just one of the little gifts that it leaves with you. I have also found that it is very easy for me to have a rib out of place. Thank heavens for my manipulative therapist.
 
Gentle hugs....Deb
 


Tavish
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 5/24/2005 3:42 AM (GMT -7)   
Mia-
When I was diagnosed in late 1999, I did the bone scan, chest xray, blood work and that was about it for staging. Have not had anything except routine bloodwork and liver enzyme tests since then. I had a bone scan and chest xray when I had pain in my sternum last year, which was determined to be arthritis from rads.
I found for myself, and have seen it in so many others here over the years, that during treatment, we feel EMPOWERED and strong and invincible. We know we are actively fighting the disease and it seems to be a much easier time. After treatment is a whole 'nother ball of wax. There is such a feeling of vulnerability and fear that sets in, and I think the reality of the whole cancer thing hits us.

Think of the emotional roller coaster we go on....from learning of the diagnosis, making decisions, having tests and then treatment.....when it is over, all that emotion has to come out somewhere, and anxiety seems to be a common way for that to happen.

I think my onc and his team subscribe to the point of view that Glenda mentioned. Some docs may do the markers after a diagnosis of mets, to help monitor the effectiveness of chemo. But for a stage I or II, they may have less value.

My advice, when you see the onc, ask about the follow up/ surveillance plan. There must be one, even if it does not include markers. If the plan is not suitable, interview another doc.

And remember that you are normal! Life after cancer is very hard and not what we expected...and it takes a while to find a new normal. And most "non-cancer" people have no idea about this,...they think you had the flu or something and are all done, all better. Hang in there, we're here with ya!
L&H,
Lori


gma
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2921
   Posted 5/24/2005 5:46 AM (GMT -7)   
Mia, as others have mentioned ending treatment is hard on some because they feel they are no longer fighting the disease. I had a mastectomy and nothing else. For awhile it worried me, but now at eight and a half years I decided the drs were right. My daughter had the mastectomy and chemo and then after a few rechecks she didn't go back to the onc for two years or even had a mammogram. I kept telling her she needed to go. Finally she went and he scolded her, but all was fine. I sure hope she doesn't wait two years ago, but knowing her, she will. So please follow all the guidelines and stay on track with exams and mammograms. Hope and pray all will be well. Hugs MK

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