CA 27-29 numbers rising: Does anyone else have an issue like this?

Posted by sandyjr @sandyjr, Jul 1, 2019

My Ca 27.29 seems to be high….in the 40’s….and my oncologist says that that is probably normal for me. He checked the records from my first bc. Does anyone else have an issue like this?

I had blood work 4months ago and then just this past week. My CA 27.29 jumped 10 points in that time and is now out of the normal range…49. I had surgery in April and radiation in July of 2018. I have been taking anastrozole since last May. Has anyone else had this experience? Of course I am afraid. Can stress affect tumor marker readings? My doctor is sending me for a CT scan. Is this a “normal” occurrence?

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@sandyjr

I had blood work 4months ago and then just this past week. My CA 27.29 jumped 10 points in that time and is now out of the normal range…49. I had surgery in April and radiation in July of 2018. I have been taking anastrozole since last May. Has anyone else had this experience? Of course I am afraid. Can stress affect tumor marker readings? My doctor is sending me for a CT scan. Is this a “normal” occurrence?

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From what I understand……….tumor markers via blood are one way doctors can see how well treatment is going or whether there is 'cancer' circulating in the blood. I have read though that it can have both false and positive results that are NOT the result of cancer, so getting a CT and following up is the best option. If you read up on this or talk with your doctors they will tell you it can be a sign of cancer or returning cancer but can also be other things.

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@cindylb

From what I understand……….tumor markers via blood are one way doctors can see how well treatment is going or whether there is 'cancer' circulating in the blood. I have read though that it can have both false and positive results that are NOT the result of cancer, so getting a CT and following up is the best option. If you read up on this or talk with your doctors they will tell you it can be a sign of cancer or returning cancer but can also be other things.

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I checked with a friend of mine who is a lab tech. She asked me about how the blood was drawn. She asked if it took a long time to get the blood drawn. It did in fact. I was having the blood drawn for my foot and the technician was having difficulties getting it to work. My technician friend said that that could have had an effect on the quality of the blood and therefore giving a false reading. I have asked my doctor to give me another order to have that test redone, which she agreed to. I am getting that done tomorrow. Hopefully that will be the issue. I also have a ct scan set up which I have no problem doing. If the new test comes back ok then my mind will be at ease. I should have some news on Monday.

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@sandyjr

I checked with a friend of mine who is a lab tech. She asked me about how the blood was drawn. She asked if it took a long time to get the blood drawn. It did in fact. I was having the blood drawn for my foot and the technician was having difficulties getting it to work. My technician friend said that that could have had an effect on the quality of the blood and therefore giving a false reading. I have asked my doctor to give me another order to have that test redone, which she agreed to. I am getting that done tomorrow. Hopefully that will be the issue. I also have a ct scan set up which I have no problem doing. If the new test comes back ok then my mind will be at ease. I should have some news on Monday.

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During my last blood draw the tech had trouble too and it showed 'platlett clumping' (I can't spell that, dang)…..that can be a sign of lymphoma and as a breast cancer survivor I was very worried too. My doctor said that the bad blood draw can cause that. Good that you're going for another blood test Tumor marker blood tests can rise and fall with inflammation too I believe (as can results on PET scans be inflammation only and not cancer sometimes). The inflammation can be from something else (a virus etc). It's certainly not an exact science but just another tool.

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I keep a chart where I track the monthly results. I like to see the changes. I also have the CA15.3 done and it looks like a roller coaster most of the time. The oncologist laughs at my excel chart but I want to know what the numbers are doing. Are you able to see all of your results without consulting the doctor?

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Mine has been in the 40's & 50's over the past 18 months – the most recent (4 months apart) were 54.6, 53.6 & 53, most recently. My oncologist ordered a PET scan this week and the results showed NED. She is going to keep an eye on it but reiterated that tumor markers have a large margin of error.

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In my 3rd month of Ibrance/Letrozole and having blood work today as a matter of fact. My baseline #'s in May (prior to start) were 58.1 on the CA-15-3 and 88.0 on the 27-29. Curious to see where they are at now. I will most likely be right back out hear with questions this afternoon. Have a great day everyone.

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This is the second time for BC with me and the only times I have had the CA 15-3 checked were when I had the surgeries (lumpectomy). It has been routine to have the CA 27-29 done for each appointment. The first time I had BC, my Dr just seemed to monitor me. The first oncologist I had this time around told me that the 40s was normal for me from checking my former records. That oncologist and I parted ways, and I went to a woman who was absolutely horrible. I had seen her once and she sent me for a nuclear bone scan because my blood work showed a two of the readings were outside the normal range, and also a full body CT scan because my tumor marker was 49. I insisted on having the test redone and 3 days later it was 41.8, but she still insisted. When I tried to ask her questions at my last appointment concerning the CT scan, she had her info all wrong and when I told her I had brought copies of my reports, she actually would not talk to me and ran out of the room. Oncologist #3 is, so far, amazing. I told him about the tumor marker stuff and he says he does not go by them as they change all the time. Also, if you read the comment that comes with your CA 27-29 that comes with your report it says “The CA27-29 assay is intended for use in monitoring: 1) disease progression and/or response to therapy in patients with metastatic disease, and 2) disease recurrence in patients treated previously for stages II and III breast carcinoma who are clinically free of the disease.” My cancer was stage 1 and so none of this applies and the CA 27–29 should not be used as a tool for diagnosing malignancy. Also, unnecessary tests are done that are expensive and that only frighten the patient. Also, it is my understanding that for the CA 27-29, the initial reading after surgery may be a bit high, but seems to decline after that. I really appreciate your response because it is good to hear of someone that also does not fit the slot doctors have put people in because it is easy and convenient for them. I also have gotten all my test results from the first time around and what I have so far this time so that I can understand and know what the doctor is talking about. You might want to do that. Doctors are not perfect and make mistakes and knowing what test results mean can help you in monitoring your own disease. Again, thank you for your reply.

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This is an interesting discussion. Tumor marker tests are one tool doctors have to monitor but they can have great change and variables. It's good to have another option in testing but again, a doctor has to be careful how it is used and interpreted. Case in point…….my husband has CA27-29 tumor marker indicator that has gone from the 40's to 177 in the past year. Granted, he has a cancer of unknown primary which the doctors are now assuming might be lung cancer. We were concerned (as the doctors were) that at 177 it shows a great deal of cancer activity in his body. We know that is happening for him……….BUT……….during our discussion it came out that several factors, in addition to cancer, could be affecting the test including his COPD, his use of inhalers and his vaping of medical marijuana (which is prescribed).
Certainly my husband has cancer and the tumor marker test is showing that but whether it's showing progression in the blood of his cancer, the doctors can't say. Finding the right mix of tests and procedures at the right time for each patient is a real 'art' and one that unfortunately is still a work in progress.
Hugs

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So it sounds like people's numbers bounce around and no two people seem to have the same starting point or "normal". I got my test results back from last week and my CA 15-3 went from 58 to 71, but my 27-29 went down from 88 to 84.6. Being that these are small numbers either way they go, and the fact i've only been treated since June I'd like to think it's positive news. Anyone?

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I am very glad you picked up this inquiry. Have you had an appointment with your oncologist? He will probably discuss it with you. It is very interesting that your numbers are so much different than mine. My oncologist says that these marker numbers change all the time. I think a lot depends on your type and stage of cancer. As I said, other than with the surgeries, my CA 15-3 has never been tested. If this is not concerning to your Dr, then it shouldn't be to you. Please continue to respond to this as time goes by.

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Sandy, I didn't have the marker #s back when I met with him. I'll see him Sept 9 after I have CT's done to check my mets and a new set of complete blood tests and tumor markers. Hopefully the numbers reduce in the 3rd month but I'm patient. You take care and have a nice weekend.

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