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blood tests to denote spread

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birdsndognow
birdsndognow Member Posts: 16
edited July 2022 in Stage II Breast Cancer

Hello. It's been awhile since I posted in this forum, so I have to do some reading up on things, but I'd like to ask when is it warranted to have the blood test that denotes tumor spread? I was dxd stage 2 in late 2019, had 2/2 sentinel + nodes; had a big lumpectomy, 33 days of radiation; and took letrozole for a matter of months until I couldn't stand the SEs any longer. It was a 2.8 cm grade 2 tumor. The ER was 95; the PR was 80; the HER - ; KI67 at 30%. I had a normal mammogram in 2021; and a couple of months ago but this time there was calcification.

I appreciate everyone here, telling their stories; and all that breastcancer.org does for those with breast cancer. Looking forward to any responses or just chatting. Thank you!

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  • ruthbru
    ruthbru Member Posts: 47,237
    edited July 2022
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    What test are you referring to? Are you having symptoms that are making you nervous? I guess I wouldn't have any tests unless I had a specific reason to do so.

  • edwards750
    edwards750 Member Posts: 1,568
    edited July 2022
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    Is the calcification making you nervous? From what I have read it’s pretty common.

    I understand the need to know. We all do. The fear of a recurrence will be with us the rest of our lives no matter what stage or grade we are.

    Have you talked to your oncologist about your fears or any other person on your medical team? I had a lady assigned to me from the women's health center where I was first diagnosed. She was my guardian angel. She was always there to help and listen.

    Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone who can help you. I was early stage BC DX 11 years ago. Every day is a blessing.
    Try not to worry. Best of luck.

    Diane

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 5,042
    edited July 2022
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    Are you referring to tumor markers? If so, please know that not all oncologists use them as they are not accurate for everyone.

  • birdsndognow
    birdsndognow Member Posts: 16
    edited July 2022
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    HI!

    "What test are you referring to?" What exbrnxgrl who replied, called tumor markers.

    "Are you having symptoms that are making you nervous?" Yeh, somewhat concerned about a painful lump on my shin; painful bones in my feet and toes; and explosive, loud banging sounds that happen in my head and feel like they travel out the ears, after I've gone to bed at night; and occasional dizziness. My primary doctor isn't worried about it, as I've just had a brain MRI, and xrays of my leg, and feet, and all looks ok.

    Because of some redness in the painful toe, I had a course of antibiotics, and that greatly helped. The leg lump is still there, as is the "sounds" in the ears.

    Thank you for your reply, I hope things are still good with you, wow, it looks like you are cured!




  • ruthbru
    ruthbru Member Posts: 47,237
    edited July 2022
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    I think the farther out you are, the less your mind immediately goes to 'cancer' when you have a ache/pain/lump/bump. My oncologist quit testing tumor markers many years ago because he felt that the results were so inaccurate. I'm sure they are helpful in certain situations, but probably not as a diagnostic tool.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 5,042
    edited July 2022
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    birds,

    Glad to hear that your doctors have done some imaging and are not concerned . A few to remember:

    - Breast cancer and/or bc metastasis are not detectable by blood test. Tumor markers are not accurate for everyone and many doctors do not use them at all. A rise in tumor markers could mean metastasis or it could mean nothing. In and of itself, tumor markers do not detect mets but indicate a need for further testing if tumor markers are accurate for a particular patient.

    - Although not impossible, bone mets are not often seen below the knees.

    Not sure who you are referring to when you say that they are “cured". Not me, of course, as I am stage IV for which there is no cure. There actually is no known cure for bc but those who are treated at earlier stages do have a good chance of it never coming back. For about 30% (not broken down by stage)sadly, that won't be the case. Recurrence can occur years or decades after initial tx. Take care

  • birdsndognow
    birdsndognow Member Posts: 16
    edited July 2022
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    Hi Diane!

    As you said, maybe I should tell those in charge of my case (all new people because I moved). I don't have an oncologist (she moved) atm, but a new GP, and NP.

    The calcification doesn't worry me like the other things going on. Please see my reply to ruthbru, above. I've had sarcoidosis since I was 26 yo; (now 69) and you get that, alot of different places in your body; then it goes away.

    Thanks for your reply, that is so great it's been 11 years cured for you! I love hearing that!


  • birdsndognow
    birdsndognow Member Posts: 16
    edited July 2022
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    Hi exbrnxgirl!

    All that info about tumor markers was great, thank you!

    That is terrible that you're at stage 4. May I ask what they're doing now, or have done for you in these circumstances?

    You take care, too.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 5,042
    edited July 2022
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    Hi,

    What have I done? Nothing beyond what my mo recommends. It’s a very long story but I’ll give you the nutshell version.

    - After bilateral mx I was staged IIB
    - While getting some tests to be eligible to enter a clinical trial, suspected bone met is found. Plans for clinical trial are scrapped. - Biopsy confirms bone met. Plans for chemo are now scrapped.
    - Had rads to bone met and started an AI. I have been through all three AI’s not because any of them failed but simply because I was trying to lessen side effects (which were not horrid but very annoying).
    - That’s it! I am currently on Aromasin. There is no explanation as to why I’ve done so well. I am simply considered an outlier.

    I will urge you again not to believe that breast cancer is curable. While it is true that earlier stages do very well after treatment, about 70% will not recur, the rest will experience a local or metastatic recurrence at some point in time, even 20 years after the initial dx. I say this in the hopes that you and the general public realize that despite the pink hype about 40,000 die of bc annually and this number hasn’t changed in decades. The pink hype has created the impression that bc is curable and no big deal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Early detection has been great but it isn’t a cure. Take care