Elevated tumour marker


Today is two years from my BC diagnosis & I have a routine mammogram coming up on Friday so it’s all on my mind again & can feel my anxiety levels rise.

My GP is currently investigating an elevated tumour marker CA19-9 which was found to be elevated whilst I was having some Gynae investigations six months ago. I was told the ovarian masses I had were cysts not cancer but this marker has remained elevated & on the last reading increased again.

Has anyone else had an elevated CA19-9 in connection with breast cancer? It can be associated with mucinous ovarian cancer but that was ruled out. My BC was a mucinous type. As this is a rare type I know this question is a bit of a long shot.


Hi Annie , sorry you are having this worry . I can’t answer your question but maybe you could ask in the Ask the nurses section see if they can give some insight or maybe ring the nurses helpline tomorrow to talk it through ? 

Mammogram time always bring horrible anxiety for most of us I think :frowning:

Hi Annie

The important thing to remember about tumour and blood markers is that they are affected by many other factors besides cancer. This is why many oncologists don’t use them. My own progress can really only be measured my markers so I’m becoming an old hand. The markers associated with breast cancer are CA15-3, CEA and CA27.29 as far as I’m aware.  I need thorough exploration and I don’t think CA19-9 has ever been tested. 

Any kind of inflammation affects the numbers. Your gynae issues, your general health, colds, hayfever, vaccinations, exposure to someone with an infection (eg hugging a toddler with chickenpox), health problems like kidney stones…they all can cause a spike in the markers, so they can never be used on their own. What can cause concern is a sustained increase over several readings (2 isn’t several) for which there’s no explanation. 

If your cysts are still there (I had a CT scan report I had 6 cysts on one ovary but it’s never been mentioned again and I’ve had a lot of scans!) that may well be the cause of elevated numbers. Yes, the marker is used to indicate the presence of other cancers but, seriously, I’d stick with the simple explanation or you’ll never break free of the shadow of breast cancer. Mammograms now should be reassuring, not a cause of anxiety. Good luck with it.

Jan x

Hi AnnieV

Can’t really offer advice as such, just support. I’m 17 months post-diagnosis with a different breast cancer in each, invasive lobular in the left and invasive mucinous in the right. Lobular is a very tricky customer to understand properly, but I have to say the mucinous tumour was given very scant regard, as if there was far less concern about it. Hopefully, all will be well for you. Are the ovaries recognised as a common mucinous breast cancer metastases site, do you know? As I had a double mastectomy (no reconstruction), I don’t have mammogram screening as an option any more (not that my annual ones picked up my cancers anyway, just sheer instinct on my part) both of which must have been developing for a couple of years at least, it was suggested. I’ve been thinking about (and will try to achieve agreement for) having the several tumour marker blood tests as a form of screening.
Best of luck.