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 burdens....so 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 kicking.......no new boots yet though, maybe next month.