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Tumor markers - how long to see a change?

SkiChick86 Member Posts: 16

Hi all, there have been a lot of posts about tumor markers but I didn't see anything specific to my question. I've been on IV chemo for six weeks (four weeks of chemo, two off) and just had tumor markers drawn because I'm having pain in my rib cage where I have a met or two. Unfortunately I never got baseline tumor markers, but I did get some drawn at a different hospital three weeks before I started chemo. Today's tumor markers were about 70% higher than the tumor markers from back in early August.

I know that tumor markers don't start decreasing immediately when you start treatment, but I'm wondering: those of you who get tumor markers drawn regularly, how long after treatment starts does it typically take for you to see a result? I think it's reasonable that my tumor markers continued to increase after they were drawn in early August before I started treatment, and possibly for at least a few more weeks after I started, but I would love to hear other peoples experience with whether or not I should have expected markers to drop quickly once I started for a Chemo that was working. Thanks in advance!


  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    edited October 2022

    Hopefully you'll get some other responses. But tumor markers are so unreliable many doctors don't use them, so expecting them to do something at a certain point is probably a lost cause. And it may not matter at all.

    I don't even follow what mine are doing. As long as I feel good and my scans are good, I'm all set!

  • seeq
    seeq Member Posts: 1,128
    edited October 2022

    skichick - My TMs quadrupled after I started treatment. Was it tumors dying off? Maybe. Then, they only came down slowly for a couple months, and quicker after that. I reached NED (by negative scans) after 7 1/2 months of treatment. My TMs seem to be sensitive. For now. From what I understand, that can change.

    Parakeetsrule is right. TMs aren't reliable on their own. Some MOs watch them for trends, others never check them at all.

  • nkb
    nkb Member Posts: 1,561
    edited October 2022

    Mine have been quite predictive and until Enhertu they came down significantly within 3 weeks of starting a new treatment. with Enhertu- the TMs after first treatment were significantly higher (first time) so got a little scared- but, hoping it is tumor die off and they will start coming down soon. My PETs are behind the TMs, but, since they were rising and my bone marrow was acting stressed, I changed treatments.

    They can be another indicator of how things are going, but, most MOs make decisions based on the scans.

  • kbl
    kbl Member Posts: 2,791
    edited October 2022

    I rely heavily on my tumor markers, as they have been a great gauge for me. I have lobular, which is not picked up by PET or CT. They started off at 490 and are now around 114. They’ll never go to normal, as I’m covered and will never be NED. On Ibrance, they only came down about 100 points in the two years. I’ve been on Xeloda for 13 months, and they started dropping immediately. I tell myself I must have a significant jump in three draws to talk about a change. When I was on Ibrance, I knew it was time for a switch because I started having the same symptoms I did when I was diagnosed, which were weight loss and not being able to eat much at all. I would say a month after being on Xeloda, I was able to eat again, and I’ve gained 10 pounds back. I do also look at how I feel. I hope Xeloda works a long time for means that your med kicks in and starts to drop them.