Dilemma - blood markers yes or no?

I finished my treatment at Christmas and have the surgeon for follow up since. Last month I saw the Oncologist for the first time since October. He takes a different view from the surgeon and from another Oncologist I’d been seeing for rads in that he wants to do blood markers. He did them throughout my chemo treatment and they went right down.
The Onc I had for rads said that he didn’t do those as it caused too much anxiety and the surgeon I see just believes in living life.

I don’t know what to do. If they were clear well it would be fantastic. If not, it will mean going for loads of scans and having the markers checked as I believe they’re not reliable etc.

Any thoughts?

elinda im not sure if you have secondaries or not but generally cancer markers are only done for people with mets to monitor the disease and how it is responding to treatment. if you dont have secondaries then they arent routinely done and as your medical oncologist says they are probably more likely to just add to your stress… but now it has been offered by the clinical oncologist it may be hard to forget about it. you could have it done this time and if its all ok you could request not to be offered again unless you want them checked. they arent reliable as you say and a positive result doesnt necessarily mean you have cancer and likewise a negative result wont necessarily mean that you dont.

sorry thats probably not really much of a help but only really you can decide what to do.


Hi Elinda

When I was diagnosed with a recurrence in my lymph nodes, the doctors wanted to check my markers but couldn’t because I’m pregnant and therefore, apparently, markers would show positive anyway.

Once I’ve had this baby and the doctors think that markers will give a better picture, I will definitely be asking to have them checked. I see your point about the worry, but I feel I want to know where I stand.

Good luck with the decision. I’m frequently caught between being in the know and in the dark. xx Jane

Thanks for the replies. I haven’t been diagnosed with secondaries and there aren’t really any specific symptoms to suggest that I might have them. I think it more the case that this particular Oncologist favours that approach.

I am still getting a lot of fatigue which I didn’t mention to him but which is causing me to worry. I don’t know how normal that is some 8 months after finishing treatment although I was extremely ill with the chemo.

I hadn’t realised until recently that checking the markers is unusual. I could see its use during chemo as I had some prior to surgery and the cancer markers dropped right down as the tumour reduced. If it were a reliable indicator then I’m guessing it would be used more routinely in follow up.


My onc uses blood markers and I do not have secondaries. I had it tested pre chemo and had it tested againg in July 5 months post chemo. He said he likes it tested each onc appointment. So does seem to be an individual decision for each onc


I don’t have secondaries yet, but have a poor prognosis and am likely to develop them. I get my markers checked every 6 months, just to satisfy myself they are OK. It’s not done routinely, I ask for them to be done. I know they are no clear definite yea or nay, but I take the view if I have a negative, well I’m no worse off mentally than I am now, and if they’re positive, then further checks wil be done which means something might be caught earlier than waiting for me to ‘listen to my body’ which is the basic advice I’ve been given.

Regarding fatigue, I finished chemo 3 years ago and still get it from time to time. It generally affects the day after having a long day out. I work from home so no commuting, but about one weekend out of every 6 I get a day where I’m absolutely knackered and I stay in bed to read, surf the internet and generally just chill out. The fatigue thing can take ages to get over.

Broomsticklady, I see the point you’re making and that’s one side of the coin. The other is that you can get a false negative or a false positive. I’ve had so many scans in the past 14 months (2 body CT scans, back MRI and brain CT) and a positive result even if unreliable would mean going through all that again and the associated risks with radiation.
I couldn’t take anymore chemo yet as I was so ill with it and had a severe reaction that caused me no end of problems. So I am thinking how would it help me.

I have only just started moving on physically and emotionally and this has really set me back. My anxiety level has gone through the roof again. I can’t bear the waiting for results which would be between 2 to 3 weeks. Another part of me thinks I’m being a complete coward and I should get on with it and be stronger.

Thanks Cherub for the comment about fatigue that’s reassuring. Mine is definitely worse after a long day out or doing a lot. My husband thinks my energy is picking up but it seems terribly slow to me.
Elinda x

Hi Elindna, we have crossed paths on here many times before. I do have bone mets. I finished my last round of chemo around December. I do have good days at present but I do get exhausted at times so just head off to bed to lie down and usually drop off to sleep. But I find that even lying down and listening to the radio helps me. I love reading but sometimes I just cannot concentrate and cannot follow the plot of a new book. But these episodes of tiredness come and go. If I am on my feet too long my back aches and I just know I need to lie flat. I think you learn to listen to your body and get used to the “signs”. I find it difficult to plan ahead so accepting invitations is a problem as I just dont know how I will be on the day. But inbetween times I can do marvellous things and even towed the caravan back to Scotland from Cornwall when my OH ruptured his Achillies tendon and ended up in plaster and using crutches. It is 21 years since I was originally diagnosed with BC abd 11 with secondaries. Hope this helps. Love Val

Hi Ladies, sorry to burst in on your thread, only, I get so so tired aswell. I find the fatigue the whole worst thing about treatment. When I finished my first lot of chemo, surg & rads, I bounced back reasonably well. I went back to playing netball, worked and studied full time, walked my bouncy dog, played with my hyper children… and now, since I was diagnosed with bone mets 2 months ago, I just can’t wake up. Worse still I’m finding this really really difficult to come to terms with. At best I feel tired and at worst I feel useless and pointless. Will this tirdness ever end?

I’ve asked to stop the capcitabine, incase that’s causing it in favour of local treatment (surg & rads), but I can’t help feeling so deflated.

I would never be able to bear waiting for blood markers - they haven’t been offered to me, but even if they were I think it would make living each day more difficult. Having just another thing to get anxious about. Got enough of that!

Hi Annie81, If the Capacitabine is working for you just now, I would be reluctant to stop it. Could you talk to your consultant to see if you could perhaps have your dose reduced or have a wee break. I came off it at Xmas (my doctors suggestion) but will be going back on it again sometime. I have had my dosage reduced before but I had severe foot and hand syndrome and my feet were so sore it felt like I was walking on glass. Some ladies have no such side efeect. Isn’t it crazy thet we all have differing side effects to various drugs? Keep posting on here Annie. We all know what feeling deflated is like so come on and have a moan with us…it has helped me when I have needed to express my feelings. Family and friends just have no idea really. Love Val

I was glad to find this thread as I have just had my first 3 month review post treatment, and apparently the CEA marker is a bit elevated. So I am just trying to understand it a bit. The Onc said he wants to keep an eye on it and will run it again in 3 months. The surgeon was also not overly concerned about it. I am a worrier by nature though and naturally tryig to find out more…