Breast Cancer Expert Forum
Blood Work Followup for Survivors?
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Blood Work Followup for Survivors?

My mother had a mastectomy last year, followed up with 3 rounds of C-A chemotherapy.  Her 1.8 cm tumor was invasive and aggressive (3/3).  The 10 lymph nodes that were removed and tested were all gross negative, but one of the three sentinel ones that were identified with dye tested as micropositive.  Her estrogen receptors were negative, and she did opt for the recommended chemotherapy regimen.
She is doing fine a year later and sees her doctor once every three months.  Many breast cancer survivors and their friends and relatives are surprised that she is not routinely getting blood work done to see if the breast cancer is recurring.  Her doctor says the blood test is unreliable and that she doesn't need it.  I also read a Reader's Digest article where Jason Seahorn's(?) wife says she has blood work done during her routine followup to make sure her breast cancer is still in remission. What would they be testing for - breast cancer cells in the blood, red/white blood cells, or other?  Is this a standard followup test for breast cancer survivors?
I can't find any information on this.  I would greatly appreciate it if you could shed any light on this blood test question.
Thank you-
A Survivor's Son
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There are substances called tumor markers, these are substances that may be present in abnormal amounts in people with cancer.  Tumor markers may be found in blood or urine.   There are certain tumor markers (Ca 27-29, Ca 15-3) that are found in people with breast cancer.  However, there is controversy as to whether following them routinely is of any real benefit after treatment of breast cancer, and if they are reliable enough to be used to detect recurrence of breast cancer.

Currently regular follow up exams include examination of the breasts, chest, neck and underarm areas, as well as periodic mammograms.  Sometimes other imaging procedures or lab tests are ordered.  Routine lab tests initially monitor how a person
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