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Feb 12, 2011 09:18PM
My med onco never has done any tests for tumor markers. She checked my Vit D early on, because my DEXA scan indicated I was osteopenic even before I started on Arimidex. (My Vit D was fine.) She also orders a chem panel for liver and kidney function but just once a year. I'm pretty sure she would skip that blood work if I had lab results from recent testing by my PCP. He keeps track of those things, too, but on a different schedule.
bevin is right. The treatment guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network do not recommend routine blood tests or tumor markers for follow-up in early stage BC. Here's what it says in the "Discussion" part of the 2011 NCCN Guidelines (version 2.2011; http://www.nccn.org):
"Post-therapy follow-up is optimally performed by members of the treatment team and includes the performance of regular physical examinations and mammography. ... The routine performance of alkaline phosphatase and liver function tests are not included in the Guidelines. In addition, the Panel notes no evidence to support the use of 'tumor markers' for breast cancer, and routine bone scans, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, or ultrasound examinations in the asymptomatic patient provide no advantage in survival or ability to palliate recurrent disease and are, therefore, not recommended."
There are other recommendations for follow-up in specific situations, like women who are at high risk of bilateral BC (BRCA 1 or 2 positive, etc.), and women who are on tamoxifen.
It looks like there is no standard way of following us once we've completed our "active" treatment. After reading about the likelihood of false-positive test results with tumor markers and the lack of survival benefit of all that surveillance in early-stage BC, I'm okay with my onco not running those tests. I do get quizzed about new symptoms at every recheck visit, though. I'm certain that she would order the relevant tests if I told her I was having problems.
2008, IDC, Stage Ia, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-