• I have no idea what "markers" are. Am looking for a valid method of monitoring progress after chemo.

    Asked by ElizaM on Sunday, September 9, 2012

    I have no idea what "markers" are. Am looking for a valid method of monitoring progress after chemo.

    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • nancyjac's Avatar
      nancyjac (Best Answer!)

      Tumor markers are substances that are produced by cancer or by other cells of the body in response to cancer or certain benign (noncancerous) conditions. Most tumor markers are made by normal cells as well as by cancer cells; however, they are produced at much higher levels in cancerous conditions. These substances can be found in the blood, urine, stool, tumor tissue, or other tissues or bodily fluids of some patients with cancer. Most tumor markers are proteins. However, more recently, patterns of gene expression and changes to DNA have also begun to be used as tumor markers. Markers of the latter type are assessed in tumor tissue specifically.

      Changes in any applicable tumor markers are valid methods for measuring the efficacy of chemo therapy. Other imaging methods such as CT scans or MRIs may be also, depending on they type of cancer,and assuming you had a baseline scan prior to chemo. Your oncologist is the person best suited to determine which method(s) are best suited to your particular casse.

      about 8 years ago
    • ElizaM's Avatar

      Thank you nancjiac. I will take your comments to my oncologist and ask him how he wishes to proceed.

      about 8 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      Although one would love to have a "sure fire" way of monitoring progress, there is no one way that is 100% accurate for every person. I do not produce CEA, which is one cancer marker that is closely monitored. My CEA level has never changed. It is the same level today now that I am cancer-free as the day I was diagnosed with a golf ball-sized malignant tumor.

      After I finished chemo, not only did I have bloodwork done (which is repeated every 3 months), I also had a colonoscopy and a CT scan (8 weeks later, need to let the colon repair after the chemo). Fortunately, the CT scan revealed that I was cancer-free. A small, benign polyp was found during the colonoscopy....which the CT scan did not pick up. (We joke that I am a PPF - polyp-producing factory!). These three methods will be what will be used to monitor my progress.

      With that said, there is not one sure-fire test that will be used...it will be several. Discuss this with your oncologist who will continue to see you on a regular basis after you finish chemo and will guide you through the post-chemo (and hopefully, post-cancer!) monitoring.

      about 8 years ago
    • ElizaM's Avatar

      Thank you -IKickedIt. That makes perfect sense and I suspect that is what I will be headed for - colonoscopies. I just had a pet scan and ct scan and they showed nothing - Phew! My CEA level was 14.6 at the time of surgery and dropped to 6.7 by the time I started chemo, but it has climbed steadily since to 23. I know it is most unreliable and so many other things influence the numbers. Hence my needing to focus on other ways of monitoring. I now have more questions for my oncoogist and I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

      about 8 years ago

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