Jun 9, 2009 11:05AM BCWarrior wrote:
I never realized that so many women become anxious about their tumor markers. Maybe my experience can help some of you relax. I'll give you a brief history of my battle but let me preface it by saying this . . . I rarely pay any attention to my tumor marker. I say "rarely" because I only pay attention if there is a sudden and significant increase in the numbers. Then I know that "something's probably cookin" and my onc sends me off for a CT. For me and my doc, the tumor marker is simply a tool that's used to monitor what may or may not be going on. They're a long way from being totally reliable. I've been told that anything below 38 is normal for everyone.
I was originally dx'd in Jan. 1998 with DCIS. Had 37 rad treatments, 4 rounds of AC and finally 4 rounds of Taxotere. Was on tamoxifen for 5 years. In the middle of all that, I also had a bilateral mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction. No nipples though. Didn't see the point. After all, who's going to benefit from them? Certainly not me (if you know what I mean) since nerve endings are dead. Getting tattoos instead. Almost made it to the 8-year mark when I had a pleural effusion. PET showed numerous hot spots in bones and left lung pleura. Tumor marker was 880. Had a thorocoscopy and pleuradesis for the lung. After 4 weeks on Femara, marker was down to 330. It continued to go down and got as low as 33. Over a couple years, it slowly increased to the 90s. Doc said he was only concerned about a sudden large increase in the numbers. Also been on tamoxifen again, faslodex and Xeloda. Started Xeloda when the marker jumped from 90s to 227. CT showed a lymph node in chest wall. Marker went down to the 60s but started creeping up again. My CT last week showed another affected lymph node and marker of 207. The Xeloda turned my hands into something akin to raw hamburger meat, constant blistering, cracking and bleeding. Been off the stuff for over a month and hands are still not healed. Doc told me Xeloda couldn't possibly be the cause or they would have been healed by now. My initial thought was to put a good squeeze on the cahones but instead, my silent response was . . . "bullshit". Now he wants me on Gemzar. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone who has had experience with this chemo. I'm doing my own research and will eventually come up with something that I feel is right for me.
Anyway gang, try not to dwell on the tumor marker thing. I wish you all good health, peace and harmony. Keep up the fight.