Tumor Markers-what levels are normal and is this reliable

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 635
   Posted 4/26/2005 12:25 PM (GMT -7)   
So I finally got the blood test results back from Dr. Quack and the CEA and CA levels are within normal range.  Would it be lower or higher than normal range if it was indicating a tumor marker.  The CEA is less than 0.5 and the CA 27.29 is 23.
So this is how my docs will watch me, but I've read some stuff on here about the tumor marker test not being very reliable.  Any thoughts?

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2004
Total Posts : 141
   Posted 4/26/2005 2:41 PM (GMT -7)   

I had my first episode with bc 9 years ago.  Since then, they checked my tumor markers every 6 months.  About 4 years ago they went up to 57 and I had bone scan and redid tumor marker which was down to 22 in a month.  Then, last year my marker went up to 67.  I had a PET scan and found a tumor which was self-contained and had not spread, thankfully.   I guess tumor markers aren't completely reliable but can give doctors some direction.

Good Luck!

Teresa King

Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 730
   Posted 4/27/2005 6:51 AM (GMT -7)   
Susan: I totally believe in the tumor markers. After my initial treatment 4 yrs ago, my CEA was at 12 and remained there. I was seeing my onco every 3 mos. W/in a 3 mo period, my CEA jumped from 12-39. We immediately starting running tests...bone marrow, ct scan, MRI and finally a PET scan. On the PET scan, a very small area showed up. If it hadn't been for the tumor markers, I don't know if we would have caught it early. Keep track. Be proactive.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 635
   Posted 4/27/2005 11:46 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks. I guess a big jump could indicate something.  Do you think small increases mean anything?


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2272
   Posted 4/27/2005 11:57 AM (GMT -7)   

I for one am not that familiar with tumor markers or the meanings, my onc does not use them with me.  I have heard that small fluctuations occur, and can be caused by a cold or even menstruation. I think it is patterns, steady increases or large jumps that they would be concerned.


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2921
   Posted 5/20/2005 6:01 AM (GMT -7)   
Hmmm, I would think that the onc who ordered the tumor marker test would be very interested in a number of 102. I am not personally familiar with this test, but I have heard from others here whose ranges have been less than 30 on up. If you have these tests regularly the dr would compare whether numbers are rising, also. I think you need to ask this question of the dr pdq. Let us know about the scans and what the dr says, ok? Hugs MK

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 829
   Posted 5/20/2005 7:24 AM (GMT -7)   
My onc said that 38 (going upward) is the magic number. However, there are things that can cause a "false" high reading and they include anything with caffeine. So, be sure you don't have the blood taken after coffee or cola.

Please let us know what the scans show. We're all here to help you through this.

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!".

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2004
Total Posts : 826
   Posted 5/21/2005 9:40 AM (GMT -7)   
My onc says below 35 is normal for the CA 15-3 test.  It's the only one I've been given.  I found out just this past week that my number was 70 when I first went to the onc.  Now it's down to about 40-41. 

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