Tumour Markers


I hope people don’t mind me asking for help regarding tumour markers. Im a data person and analyse everything which isn’t good for me. My tumour marker or CA15-3 is currently 161 may I ask what other peoples are and how high do they go or can they get. I am on capecitabine with mets in bones and a dot of my liver. Capecitabine did reduced market to 96 after a few cycles then I had terrible side effects so had extra time off from tablet and they have risen to 161, I was shocked and very upset and frightened. Any help and any info would be hugely appreciated.

I wish everyone luck on their treatment and appreciate this forum for advice thank you but please help.

louise x

I currently have mets  in the bones and had surgery to my spine and radiotherapy following which my markers have remained between 20 and 30 for the last two years.  They have been 21 for the last few months.   However my consultant said markers on their own are unreliable for breast cancer and not helpful.    Jane xx

Hi Louise,

My wife has stage 4 TNBC, and her CA153 is currently 26, which is “normal”. As Jane said, I wouldn’t read into these number too much.

Additionally her MO mentioned that chemo can actually cause CA153 to rise, so as you’re on active treatment that might also be affecting the result.



Hi Loulou

Apart from an MRI to the head, the only way of monitoring my STNBC is by markers so my oncologist explained them very carefully. Everyone has blood markers and they can be any number, so you can’t make a comparison with others on that basis. Some people’s score is around 1000, mine at the point of diagnosis was 128 and, thanks to cape, dropped to 18 within 3 cycles. It’s the same with tumour markers. A high score doesn’t mean anything on its own but watching the trend is an indication of what’s happening. The important thing is the trend. Obviously, with a break from cape (and I can understand why!), your markers have risen because TNBC is very quick off the mark but I should wait till your oncologist comments on them before panicking. If you are continuing with cape as your treatment, they will drop again and, if they don’t, cape isn’t working nd you move on to the next treatment (says she blithely!!).

I’m in the peculiar situation right now where my MRI says my tumour is showing a small progression (and my skin mets that don’t show up on any scan feel larger and harder). Conclusion - cape has stopped working. But my blood markers have dropped to 17 and my tumour marker to 6. Conclusion - cape is still working. I’m going on Friday to see what the oncologist makes of it!

It’s so easy to panic over the slightest change but time off, with TN, means you have no protection for that period and there may be TN activity. BUT your oncologist wouldn’t put you at risk so they must presumably be sure your TN will respond as soon as you restart cape.

Btw, I had a tough start to cape but, during cycles 4 and 5, I could actually feel my body adapting and ‘normality’ returning - apart from the fatigue that plagues me. So stick with it if you can because it does get easier. Take care,

Jan x