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Tumor markers

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Wasn't sure where to put this, so I put it under this topic.

If your CA 15-3 and CA 27-29 increase but are still within normal limits, does that mean anything?

When I was diagnosed, mine were in normal limits, but on the higher end. Now I'm being evaluated for recurrence and they have both increased but still within normal limits and still lower than they were when I was first diagnosed in 2017.

Do these numbers fluctuate often?

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Comments

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,184
    edited December 2019
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    Tumor markers are only an indication - not a diagnosis. Many docs won't even do the tests because they are just that - an indication - and only useful if change is watched over a period of time. If they continually go up over several tests, my MO said they might do other tests.

  • pesky904
    pesky904 Member Posts: 263
    edited December 2019
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    Thank you for the reply. That’s exactly what I was asking. Mine have inched up just a very tiny bit with every repeated test. But I wasn’t sure if they fluctuate sort of the way a glucose level fluctuates

  • illimae
    illimae Member Posts: 5,642
    edited December 2019
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    Mine typically fluctuate between 12-19 and stay in range. As minus said, they’re only an indication. For some, they’re relevant and for others, they’re not. Symptoms and scans are what most docs consider actionable information.

  • tinkerbell107
    tinkerbell107 Member Posts: 289
    edited December 2019
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    Minus2: Agree. My MO won't even order the tumor marker labs based on their unreliability. Plus I was informed it may exacerbate emotional distress which in several cases the MO feels is unwarranted. My monitoring is what Illimae just noted symptims and scans. For now I'm totally ok with this approach...

  • pesky904
    pesky904 Member Posts: 263
    edited December 2019
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    Thanks for the replies! I know these markers aren’t very reliable.

    When I was first diagnosed, my tumor was over 7 cm and my CA 27-29 was only 30 (normal range is 0 - 38).

    Because of that, I’m also aware that a normal range isn’t an indication of anything. I was just wondering how often the numbers fluctuate.

  • heatherpsalm34-4
    heatherpsalm34-4 Member Posts: 50
    edited January 2020
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    I also am dealing with ca 2729 level anxiety! The first time they did the test was July2019. (Mx 8/2018 and Chemo 9/2018-2/2019). In July my number was 28.3. In October my number was 32. My onc told me not to worry that numbers fluctuate. Just had the test again Dec 30th and it went up onepoint to 33. Again, all in normal range, but still concerns me, why aren’t they down!? My onc assures me nothing to worry about, only moving up one point. I also had test done at a different lab in July....could this explain the move from 28.3 to 32? My last breast mri showed benign fibroglandular tissue, can that cause a fluctuation? I’m sorry for rambling, I know God has me in his hand, but man, cancer just changes everything, will I ever really relax!?

  • trinigirl50
    trinigirl50 Member Posts: 158
    edited January 2020
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    mine jump around all the time. 20s, 30s, 40s then back down and then up again. And yes different labs can make a difference. I dont bother with mine anymore, too much stress. If they make big jumps over 3 months, then it may be worth panicking. But for now, 28 to 33 doesnt seem like a big deal.

  • trinigirl50
    trinigirl50 Member Posts: 158
    edited January 2020
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    inflammation causes mine to fluctuate.

  • pesky904
    pesky904 Member Posts: 263
    edited January 2020
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    Thanks, all. I'm not worried, and honestly don't see why my MO even orders them. My numbers were in the normal range even when I was first diagnosed with a 7+ cm tumor, so I don't think these tests would ever tell me anything useful.

    I was just curious if they jump around similar to the way your glucose level can be a different number every single time it's tested - it seems these markers are similar to that.

  • oceanbum
    oceanbum Member Posts: 3,644
    edited July 2020
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    I saw my oncologist earlier this week. He did a CA-2729 test. The last time I had one was Feb 2018. The results were posted to my patient portal this morning. I'm freaking out a little over the results! In 2018 the number was 31. Today it shows 36.3. I know it's still in the normal range and below 38. But it scares me that it's rising, that it's so close to 38 and that it rose by 5 points! Should I be worried or is this much fluctuation normal?

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,184
    edited July 2020
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    Ocean - cancer blood tests are only an indication - not a prediction or a diagnosis. Since that's more than two years ago, I wouldn't be too worried - but you can leave a message on your portal for your doc.

    I have blood tests every 6 months and they fluxuate up & down.

  • oceanbum
    oceanbum Member Posts: 3,644
    edited July 2020
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    Thank you for the reassuring words, Minus. Ive decided to just wait & see if I hear from them. I'm not usually the worrying type. I'm more of a what will be will be person. So now that I've calmed down from my initial panic of the moment I'm much better. I've decided if I don't hear from them, they're not worried so it's nothing to worry about. If I do hear from them, they're the professionals and they'll know what we need to do.

  • melissadallas
    melissadallas Member Posts: 929
    edited July 2020
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    Normal is normal. In range is fine. If you had it drawn again today it might be 31 again. Lot’s of things can affect tumor markers. They look for a (sustained) climb out of range to worry about them. My CEA was frequently just over range and the doc was never thought it was any big deal.

    Benign causes of elevated CA 27-29 levels are as follows:

  • specialk
    specialk Member Posts: 9,236
    edited July 2020
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    Fluctuation within the range is still normal, and it’s called a range because there is an expectation for the numbers to be anywhere along that spectrum and still be normal. All numbers on routine blood tests like a CBC or CMP move around within the range and are not usually cause for concern. Even minor elevations above and below the range can be considered “normal” and docs are usually looking for sustained climbing or dropping numbers before they get concerned. I had adjuvent (so theoretically all known cancer removed) chemo and had CA27/29 at diagnosis in the 20s. Post chemo it was 65. My MO checked at three week intervals and the number slowly dropped into the acceptable range over a few months. It had risen due to the great amount of inflammation caused by chemo, just my individual reaction. Five years later it rose again above the range when I had a substantial inflammatory process - large suture granuloma and inflamed tissue. After that was removed the number again dropped into acceptable range. While on letrozole my numbers were in the 30s most of the time over that 7.5 years, now that I am done with it my numbers are back in the 20s again, so even medication used to keep you cancer free can cause fluctuations and elevations in tumor markers.

  • oceanbum
    oceanbum Member Posts: 3,644
    edited July 2020
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    Thanks Melissa & SpecialK for the words of wisdom. I'm fairly new to tumor markers. I think they've only been drawn twice. So when I saw an increase I panicked, even though it was still in the normal range. I was expecting it to go down since I'm no longer in treatment & shouldn't have active cancer at this point. It just really threw me for a minute.

  • melissadallas
    melissadallas Member Posts: 929
    edited July 2020
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    When it is worrisome is when it was like mine, where my CA-125 was almost 1000 when it should be around 35, or when it continues to climb out of range and get higher and higher with each trst

  • berries
    berries Member Posts: 80
    edited December 2020
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    Should I be concerned with my 27.29 markers? I just saw them posted on MyChart a few minutes ago and they went up to 45, above normal limits of 38-40 U/mL.

    • 06/02: 23
    • 07/30: 11
    • 12/02: 45
    My stomach is in knots.
  • 2019whatayear
    2019whatayear Member Posts: 468
    edited December 2020
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    I think the thread above your post should reassure you. The CA 27-29 is just one biomarker test. It really isn't any definitive sort of test. Some people it always shows normal or high and it can be different based on the lab. It can be different if you had a root canal around the blood draw. It could be a mistake. It only seems to be predictive if it goes up up up up over time.

    Would it give you peace of mind if you had it run again? You can ask your MO for another test. In general the # is only slightly about the 'normal' range.

    Hugs

  • berries
    berries Member Posts: 80
    edited January 2021
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    My tumor markers were 38 today... so whoever is searching for tumor markers, know that they do in fact fluctuate!

    • 06/02: 23
    • 07/30: 11
    • 12/02: 45
    • 12/30: 38


  • 2019whatayear
    2019whatayear Member Posts: 468
    edited January 2021
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    I should really take my own advice on this thread (located just a few posts above this one) and yet I'm filled with anxiety based on the stupid CA 27-29 test. I was already feeling anxious this week because I have a colonoscopy and any cancer screening gives me anxiety.

    First result in March 2020- 26.4

    Second result in June 2020- 23.1

    Third result in September 2020 - 21.9

    Today's result Jan 2021- 25.9

    I know it's in a normal range all in the 20s. I know I should listen to myself and yet, here I am--cancer sucks. This stupid test now makes me more anxious about the routine colonoscopy this week and makes me anxious about the CT scan I will get in late March. I know I could say let's stop doing this test or don't even tell me what this test result is but it is a catch 22 for me- I want monitoring and I don't want monitoring.


    UGH



  • berries
    berries Member Posts: 80
    edited February 2021
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    An update on my ca 27.29. I'm in a bit of a panic over them (again). They are currently slightly elevated. I understand there could be fluctuations. I recently developed capsular contracture on my radiated breast a few months ago (I had my exchange surgery, started radiation)...

    could that potentially cause the increase? Feels like my breast keeps getting more and more hard. :(:(:(

    • 06/02: 23
    • 07/30: 11
    • 12/02: 45
    • 12/30: 38
    • 02/03: 45
  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,184
    edited February 2021
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    An Interesting fact - most docs will not even order the CA 27-29 test for exactly that reason - anxiety. the numbers are only an indication and have to be consistently for sometime to interpret a trend.. One or two high numbers are usually outriders.

    2019 - if you're in the mid to high 20's consistently like your numbers show, I don't believe you have any cause for concern. But you can always call your MO.

    Berries - your 45 is strange, but I would call my doc about the other symptoms before fretting about that number. Ask your RO if you can get a referral to a lymphadema PTl

  • 2019whatayear
    2019whatayear Member Posts: 468
    edited February 2021
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    Thanks for the reply Minus Two, when I was able to talk myself out of my anxiety I realized that if the most recent number was any cause for concern, my MO would have called me b/c in other times when there was any potential issue she called me and then released my numbers to my app. (Ie I had a weird calcium result b/f and low magnesium and I got a call and no results were automatically released) Does that make sense? The day they took my blood my foot was sore from running and I wonder if that could have caused it to change.

    I wish this dumb blood test had been run when they did my OG biopsy, again right before surgery and then after surgery but before chemo- that would be some interesting info.

    I'm trying to use yoga now to rebuild some trust in my body hoping that it will help with my fear of recurrence and help me manage scans and numbers that fluctuate as I live this post-treatment life (and hope to stay post-treatment)

    Hugs Berries-

  • trinigirl50
    trinigirl50 Member Posts: 158
    edited February 2021
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    2019 Just stop doing the tumour marker tests. Or do them every 6 months. I tortured myself for 5 years every 3 months. My markers would go up if I sprained my ankle, if I did a walkaton, anything at all that caused physical stress on my body. So I finally stopped it. I dont think about it any more and that's all been to the positive. I don't gain anything by worrying about mets. If I do progress, I still won't have gained anything by worrying. 20s is normal!

    Berries - my markers were up in 45s after I bruised my thigh. Some people's jump up for any kind of inflammation (or at least that was my own experience).

  • 2019whatayear
    2019whatayear Member Posts: 468
    edited February 2021
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    Trinigirl50

    Thank you for the reply! And your thoughts on inflammation!

  • FGodmother
    FGodmother Member Posts: 32
    edited February 2021
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    Greetings fellow BCO folks,

    A year ago I had my CEA marker go to 7. CEA is the marker for the digestive system and the liver and kidneys. Normal range for a non smoker is 2-3. Six months later, it was 11. Still not freaked out, but my most recent bloodwork last week had it at 31.5. Yikes! I am scheduled for a PET scan this Monday. Anyone had any similar numbers where it was just due to inflammation or something besides recurrence? My mind is going to very dark places. I was looking forward to this April and my five year anniversary having NED. Now I am not so sure. I haven't seen much on the boards about CEA. Do your MOs even screen for it?

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293
    edited February 2021
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    FGodmother, my MO tests CA 15.3 and CEA but only since my already diagnosed Stage IV recurrence. We didn't test them before I was dx with mets. Hope your PET goes well & this is just a werid blip.

  • FGodmother
    FGodmother Member Posts: 32
    edited February 2021
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    Thank you Moth. Insurance has delayed my PET scan, so I have at least four days to let my mind go crazy. Then it will be waiting for results. Trying to say positive, but am definitely concerned.


    Fairy Godmother

  • alicebastable
    alicebastable Member Posts: 1,946
    edited February 2021
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    Even when I had kidney cancer discovered a few days before my lumpectomy, I don't recall having any CA tests, just my usual standard blood work. Which I guess shows what some oncologists think of those tests.

  • livin-on-a-prayer
    livin-on-a-prayer Member Posts: 5
    edited April 2021
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    I am almost 4 years beyond treatment for breast cancer. I recently started seeing a new onc. and she ordered a blood marker test. My initial CA 27.29 tumor marker was about 47 in Oct. 2020, now in April it increased to about 52. I am so scared. I had a CT scan completed yesterday and waiting for results. Anyone have similar experiences or have words of wisdom