Hi Keywanna: Such a pretty name. Welcome to our forum. No wonder you are
frustrated. First of all it is always so difficult to watch and feel the
pain of a love one; so understand this. Secondly, things sound a bit
backwards to me too. A second opinion is always a good idea. I have
included information regarding tumor markers and hope that it is of help.
Your friend, lillian
Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) Tumor Marker
This information is from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Tumor markers are substances that can be detected in higher-than-normal
amounts in the blood, urine, or body tissues of some patients with certain
types of cancer. A tumor marker may be produced by a tumor itself or by the
body in response to the presence of the cancer.
Tests for tumor markers may be used along with other tests or x-rays to
detect and diagnose some cancers. Tumor marker tests are not used alone
because most markers can be found in elevated levels in patients who have
noncancerous conditions and because no tumor marker is specific to a
particular type of cancer. Also, not every cancer patient has an elevated
tumor marker level; this is especially true in the early stages of cancer,
when tumor marker levels are often in the normal range. Although the use of
tumor markers to diagnose cancer is limited at this time, researchers are
seeking markers that are specific to a particular type of cancer and that
can be used to detect the presence of cancer before symptoms appear.
Doctors may use changes in tumor marker levels to follow the course of the
disease, to measure the effect of treatment, and to check for recurrence. In
some cases, the tumor marker level reflects the extent of the disease
(stage) or indicates how quickly the disease is likely to progress
Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA)
CEA is a protein normally found only in very small amounts in the blood of
healthy people, but it becomes elevated in some people who have cancer or
noncancerous (benign) conditions. For example, an elevated CEA level has
been found in more than one-half of people who have cancer of the colon,
pancreas, stomach, lung, or breast. Patients with other types of cancer,
cigarette smokers, and patients with disorders such as ulcerative colitis,
liver disease, and lung infection also may have elevated CEA levels.
Source: "Tumor Markers," Factsheet, National Cancer Institute, NIH.
Tumor markers are substances that can often be detected in
higher-than-normal amounts in the blood, urine, or body tissues of some
patients with certain types of cancer. Tumor markers are produced either by
the tumor itself or by the body in response to the presence of cancer or
certain benign (noncancerous) conditions. This fact sheet describes some
tumor markers found in the blood.
Measurements of tumor marker levels can be useful--when used along with
x-rays or other tests--in the detection and diagnosis of some types of
cancer. However, measurements of tumor marker levels alone are not
sufficient to diagnose cancer for the following reasons:
* Tumor marker levels can be elevated in people with benign
* Tumor marker levels are not elevated in every person with cancer--
especially in the early stages of the disease.
* Many tumor markers are not specific to a particular type of cancer;
the level of a tumor marker can be raised by more than one type of
In addition to their role in cancer diagnosis, some tumor marker levels are
measured before treatment to help doctors plan appropriate therapy. In some
types of cancer, tumor marker levels reflect the extent (stage) of the
disease and can be useful in predicting how well the disease will respond to
treatment. Tumor marker levels may also be measured during treatment to
monitor a patient's response to treatment. A decrease or return to normal in
the level of a tumor marker may indicate that the cancer has responded
favorably to therapy. If the tumor marker level rises, it may indicate that
the cancer is growing. Finally, measurements of tumor marker levels may be
used after treatment has ended as a part of followup care to check for
Currently, the main use of tumor markers is to assess a cancer's response to
treatment and to check for recurrence. Scientists continue to study these
uses of tumor markers as well as their potential role in the early detection
and diagnosis of cancer. The patient's doctor can explain the role of tumor
markers in detection, diagnosis, or treatment for that person. Described
below are some of the most commonly measured tumor markers.
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is present in low concentrations in the
blood of all adult males. It is produced by both normal and abnormal
prostate cells. Elevated PSA levels may be found in the blood of men with
benign prostate conditions, such as prostatitis (inflammation of the
prostate) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or with a malignant
(cancerous) growth in the prostate. While PSA does not allow doctors to
distinguish between benign prostate conditions (which are very common in
older men) and cancer, an elevated PSA level may indicate that other tests
are necessary to determine whether cancer is present.
PSA levels have been shown to be useful in monitoring the effectiveness of
prostate cancer treatment, and in checking for recurrence after treatment
has ended. In checking for recurrence, a single test may show a mildly
elevated PSA level, which may not be a significant change. Doctors generally
look for trends, such as steadily increasing PSA levels in multiple tests
over time, rather than focusing on a single elevated result.
Researchers are studying the value of PSA in screening men for prostate
cancer (checking for the disease in men who have no symptoms). At this time,
it is not known whether using PSA to screen for prostate cancer actually
saves lives. The National Cancer Institute-supported Prostate, Lung,
Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial is designed to show whether
the use of certain screening tests can reduce the number of deaths caused by
those cancers. For prostate cancer, this trial is looking at the usefulness
of regular screening using digital rectal exams and PSA level checks in men
ages 55 to 74.
Researchers are also working on new ways to increase the accuracy of PSA
tests. Improving the accuracy of PSA tests could help doctors distinguish
BPH from prostate cancer, and thereby avoid unnecessary followup procedures,
Prostatic Acid Phosphatase
Prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) is normally present only in small amounts
in the blood, but may be found at higher levels in some patients with
prostate cancer, especially if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate.
However, blood levels may also be elevated in patients who have certain
benign prostate conditions or early stage cancer.
Although PAP was originally found to be produced by the prostate, elevated
PAP levels have since been associated with testicular cancer, leukemia, and
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as noncancerous conditions such as Gaucher's
disease, Paget's disease, osteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, pulmonary
embolism, and hyperparathyroidism.
CA 125 is produced by a variety of cells, but particularly by ovarian cancer
cells. Studies have shown that many women with ovarian cancer have elevated
CA 125 levels.CA 125 is used primarily in the management of treatment for
In women with ovarian cancer being treated with chemotherapy, a falling CA
125 level generally indicates that the cancer is responding to treatment.
Increasing CA 125 levels during or after treatment, on the other hand, may
suggest that the cancer is not responding to therapy or that some cancer
cells remain in the body. Doctors may also use CA 125 levels to monitor
patients for recurrence of ovarian cancer.
Not all women with elevated CA 125 levels have ovarian cancer. CA 125 levels
may also be elevated by cancers of the uterus, cervix, pancreas, liver,
colon, breast, lung, and digestive tract. Noncancerous conditions that can
cause elevated CA 125 levels include endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory
disease, peritonitis, pancreatitis, liver disease, and any condition that
inflames the pleura (the tissue that surrounds the lungs and lines the chest
cavity). Menstruation and pregnancy can also cause an increase in CA 125.
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is normally found in small amounts in the
blood of most healthy people, but may become elevated in people who have
cancer or some benign conditions. The primary use of CEA is in monitoring
colorectal cancer, especially when the disease has spread (metastasized).
CEA is also used after treatment to check for recurrence of colorectal
cancer. However, a wide variety of other cancers can produce elevated levels
of this tumor marker, including melanoma; lymphoma; and cancers of the
breast, lung, pancreas, stomach, cervix, bladder, kidney, thyroid, liver,
Elevated CEA levels can also occur in patients with noncancerous conditions,
including inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and liver disease.
Tobacco use can also contribute to higher-than-normal levels of CEA.
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is normally produced by a developing fetus. AFP
levels begin to decrease soon after birth and are usually undetectable in
the blood of healthy adults (except during pregnancy). An elevated level of
AFP strongly suggests the presence of either primary liver cancer or germ
cell cancer (cancer that begins in the cells that give rise to eggs or
sperm) of the ovary or testicle. Only rarely do patients with other types of
cancer (such as stomach cancer) have elevated levels of AFP. Noncancerous
conditions that can cause elevated AFP levels include benign liver
conditions, such as cirrhosis or hepatitis; ataxia telangiectasia;
Wiscott-Aldrich syndrome; and pregnancy.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin
Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is normally produced by the placenta
during pregnancy. In fact, HCG is sometimes used as a pregnancy test because
it increases early within the first trimester. It is also used to screen for
choriocarcinoma (a rare cancer of the uterus) in women who are at high risk
for the disease, and to monitor the treatment of trophoblastic disease (a
rare cancer that develops from an abnormally fertilized egg). Elevated HCG
levels may also indicate the presence of cancers of the testis, ovary,
liver, stomach, pancreas, and lung. Pregnancy and marijuana use can also
cause elevated HCG levels.
Initially found in colorectal cancer patients, CA 19-9 has also been
identified in patients with pancreatic, stomach, and bile duct cancer.
Researchers have discovered that, in those who have pancreatic cancer,
higher levels of CA 19-9 tend to be associated with more advanced disease.
Noncancerous conditions that may elevate CA 19-9 levels include gallstones,
pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and cholecystitis.
CA 15-3 levels are most useful in following the course of treatment in women
diagnosed with breast cancer, especially advanced breast cancer. CA 15-3
levels are rarely elevated in women with early stage breast cancer.
Cancers of the ovary, lung, and prostate may also raise CA 15-3 levels.
Elevated levels of CA 15-3 may be associated with noncancerous conditions,
such as benign breast or ovarian disease, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory
disease, and hepatitis. Pregnancy and lactation can also cause CA 15-3
levels to rise.
Similar to the CA 15-3 antigen, CA 27-29 is found in the blood of most
breast cancer patients. CA 27-29 levels may be used in conjunction with
other procedures (such as mammograms and measurements of other tumor marker
levels) to check for recurrence in women previously treated for stage II and
stage III breast cancer.
CA 27-29 levels can also be elevated by cancers of the colon, stomach,
kidney, lung, ovary, pancreas, uterus, and liver. First trimester pregnancy,
endometriosis, ovarian cysts, benign breast disease, kidney disease, and
liver disease are noncancerous conditions that can also elevate CA 27-29
Lactate dehydrogenase is a protein found throughout the body. Nearly every
type of cancer, as well as many other diseases, can cause LDH levels to be
elevated. Therefore, this marker cannot be used to diagnose a particular
type of cancer.
LDH levels can be used to monitor treatment of some cancers, including
testicular cancer, Ewing's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and some types
of leukemia. Elevated LDH levels can be caused by a number of noncancerous
conditions, including heart failure, hypothyroidism, anemia, and lung or
Neuron-specific enolase (NSE) has been detected in patients with
neuroblastoma; small cell lung cancer; Wilms' tumor; melanoma; and cancers
of the thyroid, kidney, testicle, and pancreas. However, studies of NSE as a
tumor marker have concentrated primarily on patients with neuroblastoma and
small cell lung cancer. Measurement of NSE level in patients with these two
diseases can provide information about the extent of the disease and the
patient's prognosis, as well as about the patient's response to treatment.
We invite you to take a look at our Album.
( Very informational, good tips, Molers pictures, art work and much
----- Original Message -----
From: Keywanna Pierce <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2000 2:12 PM
Subject: [MOL] Info:
> Hi, My mother has been diagnoised with pancreatic cancer(Mar 99). She
> has had radiation and chemotherapy, surgery to remove part of the
> pacreas, stomach, etc.(Aug 99). After rest chemotherapy started again in
> September and has continued until approx. 4 weeks ago. She was still in
> a lot of pain and follow-up CT scans and blood work was done. Her
> doctor then perscribed an additional pain medicine (appx 3 wks ago) that
> seem to be working fine. After all of this he reports that although her
> CT scan does not indicated that a tumor is back, her tumor marking are
> elevated but he is not overly concerned. The following week he tells us
> that the cancer is back and that there is nothing more medically he
> could do for her. I am a little confused about this whole senerio,
> could the markings that are reading about 300 indicated that the cancer
> is back and there is nothing more he could or will do? I feel that a
> second opinion is needed what do you think? (I know that you would need
> to know the details of the situation, I just need to know more about
> these tumor marking readings)
> Thanks, I NEED HELP.... AS SOON AS POSSIBLE because I'm giving up
> without a fight.
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