Friday, October 12, 2007

Just what is a Tumor Marker Test?

Most of the time when I am sitting in Dr. Serious Office, I'm a very good patient..... I listen, I take notes in my Cancer Journal and I ask tons of questions. The only thing I never asked him about was....just what is a tumor marker test and what does it reveal........I just thought it would be too involved for my chemo, radiationed and narcotic damaged brain to comprehend.......So I never asked.

Well, last week a couple of my old, working brain cells must have reunited and hooked up because I finally ask a chemo angel of mine about the test. So here is what I learned......

First of all, the markers appear in non cancerous conditions & everyone has some + number, because they show a protein (in most cases) that everyone's cells normally make, but CA tumors make a lot more of it.  These markers go up/down to a certain degree in every person...even certain drugs & short term illnesses can affect them, as well as other serious diseases that again, are not cancerous.
They should not be used as the only tool (& I know your doctors do other testing as well) & on some people, they are not a good indicator.  BUT in general, if the protein production in the testing is high over time & climbing, there is a larger tumor burden & growning cancer. 
People vary, things should be  based on what your individual markers have been (reference range is affected by age & other factors)~ I say individual because I've known people, years out from successful cancer treatment, with no evidence of disease from any other testing BUT they have high markers, or at least higher than some... for them this can be normal. On the flip side, some may have low markers, & rejoice only to find out they have growing cancer from other tests.....
 It is more based on how your individual markers have gone.  If they were high, treatment lowered them & then they started creeping up again, & the diagnostic tests have showings   then that denotes recurrent disease.  Some have continuous rise right thru chemo & those people SHOULD GET ANOTHER OPINION & see what other options are available, sooner rather than later. 

Basically what it 'tests' & measures is cells most of the time normally made by everyone's body, but much moreproductive with cancer & higher tumor way higher in someone with active or recurrent cancer.
I want to thank my Chemo Angel for helping me with this, others have asked me in the past but I was unable to explain it to them.

This new chemo I am on Navelbine is horrid, I am having the worst time since I was diagnosed, hence so little new entries or visits to others journals.....My bedroom is 2 floors up and I basically have been to sick and weak to make the trip 2 floors down to where the family room is with our computer. I had to go to the cancer hospital Tuesday  for fluids and blood tests...I've been very sick. I can get partial blog alerts on my cell phone, but I am not a great text messenger by any means........I think you have to be under 25 to be good at it! lol

Well, I wanted to share what I learned and let you all know I'm still alive and new boots yet though, maybe next month.




blpltt said...

Well, I never liked to ask, Kim.  If we were having a conversation, I would say `Oh yes' in a vague and knowledgeable way, whilst staying quite ignorant.  So thank you.
Very sorry to hear you're feeling so rough.  After all you've been through, it's very cruel, and I do hope it's all towards a worthwhile end.  I admire you so very much; and no, I can't text either.
Bunny xx

siennastarr said...


kirkbyj05 said...

Thank you Kim for thinking of others by adding this entry today.  
I wish there was some other way of helping you than this horrid chemotherapy you are going through.
I wish you had a radio laptop too to help you pass those times when awake and can be bothered to make an entry.  I know how weary you must be.  Sometimes its more than enough to just get to the bathroom. didn't make it to the boot store?  That's something to aim for soon...yes?
A goal which I know you will enjoy motivating yourself towards.
I hope you are able to look out your window and watch autumn take over the landscape. It's quite spectacular this year here in the English Lakes.
I would like to send you some views to cheer you up so if you can find the energy drop me an e-mail with your address and I will send you some cards of our area where I live.
I love 'snail mail'.  It's becoming so old hat these days but its much more rewarding than e-mail which get deleted.  At least we can reach out and re-read it on those days when we feel like it.
Take care my friend and God Blesss you too.  I hope you soon leave all this chemo and illness behind.  I pray often that you will be well again soon.
Much love and good vibes with prayers are winging your way.
God Bless you 'My Lovely Irish Eyes'.
Jeanie   xxx

sunnyside46 said...

they are growing bigger thumbs these days to accommodate the texting srry about you being sick

redsneakz said...

I'm glad that you were able to make it downstairs briefly, but sorry that you've been too sick to really enjoy your life right now.  Please do know that I, and many others, are praying for you and wishing you and your family strength right now.

plieck30 said...

That was nice of you to explain that. Thinking of you and caring about you, Paula

mutualaide said...

I've often wondered the same thing, so I'm glad you asked and shared the info with us.

New boots will come.  {{{hugs}}} -- and good wishes that you feel stronger and better.

lanurseprn said...

I'm sorry you are having such a rough time of it. I'm watching my best friend deal with chemo right now, and it's just plain cruel at times. But, the end result is what we are after, yes? More time with our families. Just keep that goal in mind. You'll be strong and you'll do it.
Keeping you in my prayers as always.

thinkingoutloud said...

Thank you Kim for the info on the "markers".  
I wasn't aware they could be low and you could still have active cancer happening elsewhere.  Good to know.

I hope this round of treatments do the job.  I am sorry to hear that they are making you so sick.  Side effects suck.

Stay warm and get all the rest you can.  Let your Jim and kids wait on you.  I know they are more than willing.

Lots of love & prayers for you,

malagutigrrl said...

I often wondered what they were myself...since you speak of them.  Thank you for the update.  I know your computer time is precious and short of I'll end this here.

candlejmr said...

Sending you ((hugs)) and love today and always....

sdoscher458 said...

Oh Demandn I hope you got the email I sent you about the new type of treatment here in Tampa. It's almost non invasive and targets only the tumors not sending your whole body into a terrible spin. Email me if you didnt get it and I will resend you, Sandi

astoriasand said...

How kind of you to make that tremendous effort to explain to all of us about the markers,when you are feeling so sick,you are more than an inspiration.Thankyou.Sorry the new med is making you feel so gastly I am sure we all wish we could wave a magic wand and make you well.You so desrve to be well the fight you have put up so far.I don't know about the under twenty fives. In my family the under tens seem wizards at the texting game. THICKY  Grandma or what is wha I feel LOL!!Keep going Kim we are all willing you on.Prayers being said still thousandfold for you and all your beautiful family.Rest and Take Care God Bless Kath

ladyvictoriak said...

It sucks the Navelbine has been so tough on you.  I hope it gets better soon.  Sending good thoughts your way.


sybilsybil45 said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain what these marker tests are all about.  Just rest our dear Warrior and be taken along on our wings of love and in our prayers.  Love  sybil xxx

gosso23 said...


astaryth said...

I hate that the new drug is being so hard on you, but I know you will soldier on thru it, it's just what you do!!

What you need is a laptop! Then you could not only check your e-mail, journals from anywhere in the house (particularly the comfort of your bed <g>), but take it with you if you have to go anywhere else. You don't need an expensive one, in fact a used one would probably be perfect. G uses one of my old laptops. It doesn't take much to process e-mail and the web, even if you have a high-speed connection! You would also be happier with a used one because it would most likely have WinXP on it. Vista is a resource hog and the sub $1000 models just don't get it. Better to stick with a WinXP used machine. I  have a friend who just bought one from a student who is graduating from College. The machine is 4 years old and wouldn't be good for gaming or anything, but makes a perfect 'internet' machine!

mumma4evr said...

so sorry you are feelig so icky!!!!
I am glad you explained tumor markers.  It is scary when they are elevated.When I was going through my surgery in May, my CA125 was elevated because I Had an endometrial cancer.

ajquinn354 said...

Kim, bless your Chemo Angel for clarifying TMT not only did she clarify for you, but helps all of us to better understand it also. I'm so sorry that the Navelbine is causing you such discomfort dear, wish I could be there to give you a hug.  Have wondered how you were doing, now understand that you haven't been up to doing the steps.  Hang in there Kim, hopefully you'll be feeling better soon and can get those new boots before the snows hit Illinois.  Take care, you're always in my special thoughts and prayers. Hugs....Arlene (AJ)

princesssaurora said...

{{{ Kim }}}  Many prayers heading your way.  I truly hope that as time goes on that it becomes evident that cancers ass is being kicked by this dang chemo!  Keep us posted...  Don't worry about jland... we are here and will be when you are feeling better!

be well,

purplemaniac27 said...

I have a question for you.  My father was diagnosed with breast cancer and I know the cancer is more aggressive on men then for women.  He was put on a medication called Femara and it made him very disoriented.  Has any medication that you have taken given you that effect?  I'm just trying to better understand my father's illness.  Any information you can give me will be very helpful.  I know you have gone through a lot and the last thing I would want to do is make you re-live your nightmare.  Thank you in advance.

faithmtn said...

Such a sweetheart to think about other people when you're going through so much! So sorry to hear that you're feeling very ill right now. Save your energy for healing, rest well, and be good to you! Keeping you in my healing prayers Kim.

inafrnz247 said...

Those boots have your name on 'em...  They'll be waiting.

Thank you for sharing this information, Kim.  We all want to walk beside you and share this journey with you, and it is a blessing to be able to understand in some small way.  

Keeping you in thoughts and prayers,


chat2missie said...


hugsdoodlewacky said...

((((((((((((((((((HUGSTOYOU))))))))))))))))))))I am glad you got some answers.Have a nice weekend.

gehi6 said...

Good to hear from you but sorry yiou are having some  bad time with the new chemo.  The tumour marker info was interesting.  I try to take in what I can about treatment.  Pierre's lung cancer was diagnosed so late and went so fast there was no treatment.  There is a lot of difference between what some will endure just because they want to live and be with their loved ones more time.  shows what the power of love really means. My best best to you.  Gerry

lesliebardales said...


jckfrstross said...

keeping you in prayer:)


nightmaremom said...

Great info.. thanks for sharing...  I do so hope you can get some strength back.. keep smiling and fighting

canyonsun04 said...

I hate to hear your having a hard time with chemo and all. I know, well not really, but I do realize it's not a picnic, I just want this treatment to fast forward and it all be back to healthy normalcy again for you .
That is very interesting about the tumor marker test, very interesting. Never heard of it.
Do you recieve red blood cells, plasma or platelets???? i heard some cancer paitents do.

tendernoggle said...

Hi Kim,
I hope you had a better day today... I wish I were closer so I could be of real help to it is, I want you to know that there is not a day go by that I don't think of you and pray for your healing.
Love ya,

ma24179 said...

Thanks for clarifying that for us!...and aol mobile is not to bad.. just practice and u'll get it prob ;)

ab45yui said...

Bless your heart, I am sorry you are having such a time with the chemo.  

katie39041 said...

You just get yourself better for that shopping trip. I hope you feel better soon. love and prayers are sent your way.
love and hugs

jmorancoyle said...

    Just take care of yourself. I'll keep an eye open for your alerts.

carolhehe said...

I peek in your journal from time to time to see what is happening. I wish you well and peace for the dark path you have to follow. Just remember there is a new beginging at the end of this jouney. We never end, we do pass on to another plane of life. Hugs

lindaggeorge said...

Dear Kim.

First time I've been able to visit for weeks, what with floods, my daughter and family moving over here from Germany, followed by their visiiting relatives and my son's wedding, I just had to get my arse off my computer chair and get things done!

What a roller coaster ride that all was! There were times when driving to and from work, I thought I would just carry on driving and disappear somewhere, I just didn't feel that either physically, or mentally that I could take on any more. But I had so many people relying on me, so what do you do?

YOU know what you do because you're doing it, you battle on because that's what women like us do and to give up is an option that can only be considered, not taken.

I carry a thought in my head, something I read a long time ago about a reclusive Nun called Julian, she lived in the Middle Ages and became (I think they call it an Anchorite?) lived constantly in a small cell attached to a church in Norfolk. She was supposed to have had direct communication from God. Now I don't believe in the Church thing but I do believe there is some divine force that guides us. One of the things Julian was told and please excuse the imperfect quotation " I never said that you would not be temptested and travailed but I did promise that you would not be overcome" I find that thought comforting in my darkest hours.

I hope this Chemo does what it should and that you will soon be running around in those new boots.

Much love,

Linda xx.

layla44808 said...

Thanks for that mil has cancer and my sil talks alot about her markers. At least now I know more of what she is talking about..
Sending good thoughts and prayers your way...hope you feel better.

emabecmar said...

having had cancer myself i never knew this. thank you for posting it. I hope you get those new boots. ((((((hugs))))))))

geminisolox said...

You are such a lovely, lovely lady.  With much love from across the pond, as always... Gem xx

mzgoochi said...

you just keep on kickin and never give up Kim. I know I should, and I did the last time, but this time I have no interest in what they are giving me. And every time I go in for  a checkup their attitudes change. One visit they act like they are so happy to see me and have great hopes in making me better, then the next visit by the time I leave the office I'm almost in tears because everyone acted so gloomy and sad for me. maybe it's just me. I dunno.

anywho, Love ya and God Bless ya!

breakaway1968 said...

I'm behind too but getting there!  Enjoyed your journal never know when things like this will come in handy. I have never had cancer nor do I want it but you never know!  I always read up because eventually it will affect me in some way. My MIL is fighting cancer now too and it is in the muscle under the pelvis.  She is doing the cemo.  She already went thro breast cancer and beat that.  I can't imagine the strength needed to fight back when you have this terrible disease!  

hbound4 said...

Thank you for this info and for putting it "out there" for others. Good to be informed not only for yourself but for others who might be going through this.
Hope you can be done with the chemo soon and get to feeling like yourself and soon.

hbound4 said...

Thank you for this info and for putting it "out there" for others. Good to be informed not only for yourself but for others who might be going through this.
Hope you can be done with the chemo soon and get to feeling like yourself and soon.

ginsherer said...

Thank you...I had been wondering just what cancer markers were, and like you had never for sending text have to be at least under 32 year old son is pretty good at it...Hang in there, lady...

pprrrr39 said...

Sorry to hear that the treatment is making you feel so bad..... hang in there

hugs Jayne