My ca15-3 seems to have doubled over the last year from 35-70. I have an MRI scan today. Last time when I had my MRI - approx 6//12 ago- the ca15-3 was 68 and scan showed NED. But surelythe fact that ca15-3 is going up shows disease is active?
I am really worried

Hi juliecharlie

Thanks for posting. It’s understandable you are worried because your CA15-3 level has increased over the last year. It’s good to hear that your MRI showed NED (no evidence of disease) six months ago, and that the scan is being repeated today.

Tumour markers are proteins that may be produced by the body in response to the presence of cancer. Tumour markers can be detected in a blood sample. One tumour marker linked to breast cancer is CA15-3.

It isn’t clear how reliable the measurement of blood tumour markers are. This is because tumour markers can be raised for other reasons such as other benign (not cancer) health conditions or treatment.

For some people, tumour markers may be normal even when breast cancer has come back and for others they may be raised for other reasons when cancer has not come back. They are not generally recommended as part of follow-up after a diagnosis of primary breast cancer.

Tumour markers are most commonly used when breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body (secondary breast cancer) to monitor how well the treatment is working. It’s not clear from your post whether you have been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. If you are having treatment for secondary breast cancer, and the cancer responds to this, tumour marker levels often decrease. Increasing levels may indicate that the cancer is not responding to treatment. A scan may be useful to check this, which you are having.

Tumour markers are a very small part of monitoring your condition and are not often used on their own to make decisions about starting or changing treatment.

The best people to talk about your concerns are your treatment team or breast care nurse who will have all the information about you and your treatment and should be able to answer your questions.

You may be interested in our range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer. They include face to face and online courses and events. For more details about all of these services, please see the information on the link.

Do call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen to your concerns, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK - prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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