My mother is 63 years old and has been free of breast cancer for 17 years. She has a variety of tests every 6 months, including the CA 27.29. Through the majority of that time, her CA 27.29 levels have been what would be considered "normal" (~40), but on her most recent test, the level jumped to 212. She is scheduled for a PET and visit with her doctor this coming Wednesday, but we're trying to figure out what this sudden spike may mean after being cancer-free for almost two decades.
Adding to the confusion, her former oncologist has suggested that the medication she has just started for high cholesterol, Simvastatin (started just prior to the most recent CA 27.29 test), may possibly have some effect on the results. Upon contacting the manufacturer of the drug, we discovered that this medication is also used, ironically, for breast cancer treatment. Given that fact and our situation, the researcher at the company's lab said feels that there's too great a coincidence to not rule out some sort of false positive. The lab researcher will continue to study this to see if the medicine, in fact, may have caused the spike, while we've still got the appointment for PET scheduled for Wednesday.
Can anyone add anything to either the jump in the CA 27.29 or whether or not the Simvastatin could have had something to do with the jump, as the oncologist suggested and pharmaceutical researcher is investigating?
I think they are both correct, and each have valid points. Usually one isolated test which shows an elevation is not very useful, and it would be much more helpful to have the test results of like three CA27.29 about three-4 weeks apart and see if there is a pattern to be found. i.e. contunued elevation.
On the other hand, this jump to 212 from many years of 'normal range results' would cause me worry as well, at least enough to find that a PET scan is warranted in your mother's case?
Take care, and please let us know what happens.
There is also a chance that your mother;s cancer is coming back but this may not yet show up by testing, or at least not all tests.
What is important to know is if your mom has any new and unusual symptoms, as these are most often the reason why something like a PET scan is done. if both symptoms and a dramatic increase in the numbers occurs together then surely a scan of some kind is indicated. (and for choosing the right tests it really helps id there are symptoms and to look for them most specifically)
PS: In my case, and most recently, my tumor markers increased significantly and I for the first time was complaining of lower back pain. (yet, this was different from your mom as much less time had passed since my last troubles in a different place and that showed positive results) This time it was my lower back that was becoming more painful and a PET scan was ordered almost immediately with special attention given to my spine and surrounding areas. many new lesions (cancerous) were detected in both spine and liver.
You did not mention any symptoms and that may be a very good sign.
Thanks for your response. She mentioned she feels no new pain (no pain at all, for that matter) that would have just started, which we figured may have been a good thing.
After I posted the question here, I called the American Cancer Society. Explaining the situation to the man on their 800 number, he seemed to feel that there was a "definite possibility" that the medicine may have something to do with it, given that each test that's been done over the 17 year span has been in the 35-45 range.
The PET scan will be done tomorrow, so hopefully we'll know then. If anyone else has anything to add, please feel free.
Update: PET, CAT Scans came back clean, ruling out basically everything in the abdomen. MRI on the head showed no tumors or growths in the brain. The CA 27.29 was run again this afternoon, but the doctor seems to think that if there is anything (which she is doubting), it would be breast cancer, but in its most basic, earliest stages and would be fairly easy to treat.
MRI on her right breast comes tomorrow (she had a mastectomy the last time).
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