Blood -Tests

Does anyone know how much information and how accurate the blood tests they use in cancer care are?
I had negative tumour markers yet one month later have stage 3 cancer - how can this be?
Also can anyone confirm to me that having spread to lymph nodes does NOT count as secondary?

I was told that blood tests cannot be used to diagnose or detect cancer (unless cancer cells are actually present in the blood - eg leukemia??)

I have had regular blood tests for years (anaemia) and yet my BC was only discovered on a routine mammogram.

Spread to lymph nodes is not automatically secondary - BUT it could indicate that it has spread elsewhere - which would be.

This link might hyelp?

I was treated in England and was told that blood tests for tumour markers are not done in connection with breast cancer. I was told that this is because there are no accurate tumour markers for breast cancer detectable in blood tests.

Normally ‘secondary breast cancer’ refers to cancer that has spread to ther organs/parts of the body e.g. liver, lungs, bones. Secondary breast cancer can have reached other parts of the body via the lymph nodes.

Hi Sascha, just to try and reasure you ,spread to lyphnodes is NOT secondary breast cancer, secondary breast cancer is where breast cancer cells have travelled to other organs in the body, ie Bones,Lungs,Liver,Brain., think of lymphnodes like filters they work by “catching” any stray cancer cells , meaning they are doing their job , if its of any help ive known of lots of ladies on this forum over the yrs who have also had many positive lymphnodes involved sometimes and have now had their treatments and are absolutely fne and are off living their lives.
Its such a worry when we are first DX with BC as it all seems so frightening and daunting ,but try not to panic pet (easier said than done i know) but haveing positve lymph nodes does not mean your cancer has spread beyond the nodes. am keeping everything crossed for you for Monday with your results, try and keep busy (know its hard) but when you have your full path results, and a treatment plan in place you will get back some control again, and it does get better i PROMISE.
Massive big hugs to you pet ((((o)))) , if i can be of any help with anything you are very welcome to Pm me.
Linda x

Hi Sascha, I had 20 / 20 lymph nodes positive, but all my scans have come back clear so doesn’t always mean cancer has spread , I have to start FEC-T chemo, then rads and herceptin for a year.

The CA15-3 and CA27.29 are on the whole mostly used in the UK to monitor secondary breast cancer treatment, not for screening or diagnosis or even in the routine follow up of primary BC patients. The result ranges vary by lab and person to person, and they can be superseded by the estimation of CTC’s, offered by private labs, like Cell Search by Source Bio Science. None of this is routinely done in Stage1-3 BC on the NHS. Lymph Node spread is not secondary BC. Secondary BC is spread to other organs.

your lik helps a lot JCJ.
this website also helps patients with breast cancer see more information below and get a chance to win breast cancer pink bracelet

I was told that it was good news they’d got all the cancer out when i had WLE and that the other good news was that my bloods were normal…ie there are no abnormalities showing in my liver, bones and kidneys. My guess is, if there are tumors growing in your body then they would show up unless they are microscopic and dont show up on CT scans ect… I had 25 posiitive nodes which scared the hell out of me and it still does. I’m also grade 3.
Regards to secondary cancer, well if the cancer cells have spread to the lympth nodes then surely that’s classed as a secondary cancer because it’s gone from the breast to the nodes, so basically the cancer is then more advanced.
I find the whole thing confusing…All i want is to start my chemo asap then i know what ever cancer is left will hopefully be mopped up.

Hi KB, have you called the helpline at all to help with the explanation of the staging of breast cancer? Here is a link from macmillan
Stage IV is when the BC has metastasized to distant organs in the body, Lymph Node involvement without spread to other organs is not secondary BC. Has your BCN been able to support you during this difficult time?

Hi KB, It can be very confusing sometimes, but as Tina46 says above Lymph Node involvement without spread to other organs is not secondary BC.
BCC have lots of info on all the different types/stages of BC also in their publications list, but do have a chat with your BCN or the BCC helpline if there is anything your concerned or not sure about ,
This is from one of BCCs Publications.
What is secondary
breast cancer?
“Breast cancer that comes back in the same breast
near the original cancer is called local recurrence.
When it spreads to areas around the breast such as
the skin, the muscles on the chest wall, the lymph
nodes under the breastbone (sternum), between the
ribs or the nodes above the collarbone (clavicle) it
is called regional recurrence. Both of these types of
recurrence will need further treatment, but they are
not secondary breast cancer.
Secondary breast cancer occurs when breast cancer cells
spread from the first (primary) tumour in the breast through the
lymphatic or blood system to other parts of the body. You may
hear this referred to as metastases, advanced breast cancer,
secondary tumours, secondaries or stage 4 breast cancer.
When breast cancer spreads, for example to the bones, it is
called secondary breast cancer in the bone. The cells in the
bone are breast cancer cells.”
Hope this is of some help
LInda x

Secondary bc is when you can no longer be cured of the disease, but even if all your lymph nodes are positive then the aim of treatement is to cure you… In technical terms they call cancer in the nodes cancer that has metastasized there from the primary tumour in the breast but it isnt classed as a secondary until it has moved to another part of the body completely… Inthe nodes it usually has got from breast to nodes but no further… Or in some cases gone from breast to chest wall which also still considered stage 3 and not stage 4. Its only when it is somewhere else and has basically travelled through our bod hat i becomes stage 4.

With regards to blood tests… Cancer markers arent routinely done in the uk unless you have stage 4 cancer and that is more to monitor the trends eg going up or down rather than whether hey are normal or not.

However general blood tests can indicate that things all appear in working order like liver function, kidney function and red and white blood cells.

Thanks ladies…but why did my surgeon say it was really good news that my bloods were normal…after telling me that it was great news theyd got all the cancer out. My bloods would have definitely shown something if there were tumors growing on the liver, lungs, bones etc etc…unless they are microscopic which wouldnt even show up on a CT scan.So they are basically saying that they are not too worried about spread, thats why they say they are heppy when your bloods are normal.

K x