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I need your help for CA15-3
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I need your help for CA15-3

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
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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?
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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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