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Question about tumor markers

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Old 11-07-2012, 07:06 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2012
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Verity75 HB User
Question Question about tumor markers

Hi, this is my first time asking anyone this and it's sort of driving me crazy. My mom is a breast cancer survivor (2 years so far). She had a double mastectomy for lobular cancer in one breast just to be on the safe side and her prognosis was very good. The doc said she only had about a 5% chance of the cancer reoccurring. Her first year, the tumor markers came back fine. But a couple of months ago, they were elevated at 44, which the doctor said was "borderline" for breast cancer tumor markers. She'll be having another test in January.

It's making her crazy (and me) that my mom survived, had a great prognosis, and now it seems she might relapse. I don't know how accurate tumor markers are, frankly. I've Googled and come up with all kinds of theories, but nothing much seems to agree with anything else.

Frankly, I'm scared for her. Our last dance with cancer left us feeling exhausted but basically optimistic. My mom really thought she had dodged the bullet, but now we aren't so sure.

Does anyone have any practical experience with tumor markers? Are they as inaccurate as I've been reading? Or do you think we have cause to worry?

Thank you so much for any info. It's really appreciated!

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Old 11-11-2012, 09:12 AM   #2
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Pratoman HB UserPratoman HB User
Re: Question about tumor markers

Verity -
I (actually my wife) have a similar but different situation, which i just posted about, looking for feedback.

But i can tell you, markers can be all over the place. My wife had same prognosis as your mom, very early stage - this was in 1986, and she has been cancer free since then, but a little over three years ago, her marker (ca 15-3) jumped from the normal range, in the 20's, to mid 30's. She has been closely monitored, since then, and it jumps around. Been as high as 42, but mostly high 30's. Last reading a few months ago, was 32.
The onco says, he wants to be careful so he will continue 6 month monitoring, but he feels strongly that this is probably her new baseline, sometimes these numbers go up for no explicable reason.

So my point is, and my reason for posting this is, DO NOT FREAK OUT. I know its very easy to say, i understand your concerns (i am going thru a thing where my PSA is up, and i am not having an easy time relaxing right now, so i totally understand where you are coming from). But it could very well be absolutely nothing. Just make sure she is followed closely, and look at the trend. If it trends up steadily, then the doc will probably order a pet scan. But right now there is nothing that exists or has been confirmed, that should freak you out. Concern, yes. freakout time, no.

Try to learn to take things as they come. Its a necessary skill when dealing with this disease.
I sincerely hope this helps you

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Verity75 (11-19-2012)
Old 11-18-2012, 05:18 PM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2012
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Verity75 HB User
Re: Question about tumor markers

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Prato. We're definitely trying to approach this with a "one day at a time" mentality. It hasn't always been easy, but when I read about what you folks deal with, it truly humbles me.

I hope things are working out for you with the PSA.

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