Hi, everybody! I was diagnosed with breast cancer at stage III in Feb. 2000. After having surgery, chemo & radiation therapy, I have been doing fine except that my CA15-3 (a tumor marker for breast cancer) is not stable. The normal range for CA15-3 is 30. My CA15-3 had increased from 36 to 68, between May and Oct. 2001, and then the number dropped down gradually to 36 in May 2002. However, from July 2002 to July 2003, my CA15-3 increased from 44 to 605. In the last 2 years, I have taken all necessary examinations every few months, including very expensive PET scans four times. Although I took so many exams, doctors still can
Dear hope87: A CA15-3 is not necessarily specific to breast cancer. In fact, it can be elevated in many cancers and in some studies a significant number of normal controls (people who do not have cancer). In many cancer centers, this test is not done for precisely the reason you have written your question. What do you do if it is elevated and no disease can be found? It makes no sense, given the lack of specificity and reliability of this test, to treat a number in the absence of any other evidence of disease, no matter how high. Your doctors are right about that. However, because the test has been done, you are now worried. Now the question is do you keep doing the test or do you follow with scans and regular blood work? In other words, if a test does not influence clinical decision making, why do it?
Had mastectomy and chmo 1995-96. In 2001 markers were starting to elevate in the 60s. I was started on arimidex. spring 2002 pet scans and everything were negative. Marker up to 75. March 2003 marker 100. med changed to aromasin all scans negative but pet picked up an area in sacral spine which mri confirmed as mets. July marker 158. aromasin discontinued and I am on faslodex. If this doesn'r work will have to have conventional chemo. I had gone for a second opinion as I felt the doc was treating the marker. The man I went to is well known and says he does not do markers after 5 years and goes by how you feel. I feel fine. In a way I am glad he did the markers and treatment was started. Good luck to you.
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