I asked my onc about this today - he says that he uses them for bone mets but doesn't find them reliable for lungs and liver mets (which I have). So - you pays yr money and you takes yr choice. I have to say though that I've found him very good in all respects so i'm willing to go with this. He has been monitoring me monthly, with a three monthly CT scan. However he tells me we can now move to 3 monthly monitoring and I may not have to have a scan for 6 months. Hooray for Arimidex Should give my veins a chance to recover too!
I think - can't remember where I read this or who told me, so can't guarantee this info!! - that tumour markers are an indication of how metabolically active the cancer is. So if they are low it can mean there is no cancer or that the tumours are pretty dormant. That sort of fits with you, Dawn - 12 or 13 is fantastic! And obviously any increase (whatever the initial level) might indicate more activity, though treatments can also affect the level. All very confusing!
I was also told anything upto 35 would be considered "normal" but for anyone with mets, they would be very very happy with anything below 40.
Debs, I do remember you..we chatted about markers?..it seems a long time ago.
Great news nothing else is showing on your scans. Hope you get better markers next time.
How lovely to see you posting! Take Care, Belinda..xx
dawnhc, I've always thought your markers are incredibly low! I've been told CA15-3 can be be up to 35 for normal range then someone told me some hospitals go even higher, 38. Brilliant news yours are so low. Belinda..xx
Its been so.... long since I have posted on this site hope all is going well (you know what I mean) especially Belinda (you probably don't remember me!) Anyway tumour markers - confusing yeah.. mine were very stable for 2-3 years, they are now going up slightly to 88, have had all my scans but nothing else is showing up only secondary bone and onc says this seems to be getting better - not sure what to think back for blood test in 4 weeks they are not sure what action to take. Anyway all of you out there take care. Love Debsx
I particularly liked Allie's remark - "I've heard in non cancer people they're about 14 if thats any help!" as mine have been 12-13 for the past couple of years. Given that I have extensive bone mets I reckon that's pretty encouraging. I have full blood tests every 3 weeks and the tumour markers done when I remember to ask for them lol.
I am another one whose tumour markers are usually pretty low. When diagnosed with secondaries last August they were in the "normal" range - 25. Then, around Christmas, they took a rise to 37 which, although not a big jump, did mirror some progression to my lymph system. I will be interested to see now I am on chemo what happens to them.
I have heard of women with very high tumour markers - two or three thousand.
I just wanted to add my experience of tumours markers. My Onc has never been big on using tumour markers as a gauge so I have instigated them being measured myself by filling in the blood forms every so often. I had a secondary diagnosis of breast cancer to the bones in 2005 and during that time my tumour marker CA15-3 was at 12. Over the next two years it steadily increased by one point. March 07 it was 15, then July 07 it went to 17. During October 2007 I had a routine liver ultrasound and they found a suspected liver metatases. There was originally a lesion on the liver but there had been no change in size and suddenly the lesion was 3 times its volume than compared to the previous ultrasound in May. Tumour markers had also shot up to 41.8. My Onc said that the chances are that it is something on my liver and we would have to watch it and see if it was growing. Great, talk about proactive. Anyway, during December I had a CT scan which wasn't particularly successful as they couldn't get the second contrast dye in through a vein (usual story for people who have had lots of chemo and they would not use my port). The results however were conclusive, there were 3 tumours on my liver.
So I reckon tumour markers are an indication of something happening. As people have previously said, you probably do need to measure them according to the individual and I think that the rise for me was out of the norm and did indicate that something was going on.
I had my tumour markers done when first dx with mets and they were "normal" and not particularly significant and so the onc has not repeated them at anytime in the last 18 months. Not all Oncologists use them and mine relies on blood test results (every three months). I am due to visit him next week and intend to ask how he will know if and when the Arimidex is failing.
I think mine were somewhere about 900 before my chemo treatment, last month they were 32 this month 46 but think this was due to "zoladex flare" as tumours on CT scan are still decreasing. I think its more about the trends that they keep an eye on. I've heard in non cancer people they're about 14 if thats any help!
Hi Mills and Belinda
I'm confused about tumour markers too. My oncologist has never even mentioned them and I don't have regular blood tests - apart from the ones used to monitor me during Taxotere. He examines me every month and I have a scan every three months. On the other hand I've only just finished 6 months of Tax and have had my first 3 months of Arimidex (will find out on Friday if it's working). They might have been taking them while I was on tax of course - I was too shell-shocked at the time to ask.
You get to be quite knowledgeable after a while though.... Another question to add to the list for Friday.
Hi Mills, I've been having markers taken ever since diagnosis, every 4 weeks. My understanding is we can all vary hugely with our markers, I think it also depends where, what type and how much cancer you have too but what the oncs are looking for is the trend of your markers. Before starting any treatment mine were 90. On tamoxifen they went down to the 60's..stayed bobbing along in the 60's for just over a year. So I was stable, they only ever changed a point or 2 each month. I then had 3 months on the trot of them jumping each time till they got to the early 70's so at this point the trend was upwards and I was changed to Arimidex. I had a better response with Arimidex and after 3 months my markers went down to the 50's and then down to 20-25 for nearly 3 years. Arimidex started to fail and I had another 3 months of rises and was changed to Aromasin when my markers reached 35.
I'm now on Aromasin and while I haven't had a dramatic drop my markers have remained constant at 32. Sorry for the ramble. Loads of Good Luck with Capecitibine..x
I am very confused about tumour markers. Mine were 400 before Taxol last year and went down to 170. They began creeping up again (now 390) and I have been changed to Capecitibine. I read about people panicking about reading of 35!!!
I know we are all different but what is the significence of the numbers. I know peple who are further down the line than me and their readings are low. Can anyone help?