Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lab Results and Skin Issues

I saw Dr. Kenyon today and got the results of the blood lab results from last week. My CEA is 0.9, which is a good normal number. The normal range is 0-2.5 micrograms. So, it was in the normal range - a good sign! However, my CA 15-3 level was 36. Two months ago, it was 31. Three months before that, it was 23. Normal is less than 35.

So, should I be worried about this CA 15-3 result? Not really. While in the best of all possible worlds, we would have liked to see this number go down, it isn't cause for concern, because apparently, they are not quite sure what this test is measuring. Here is one critique of the test:

According to what this person on the blog says (a Dr. Stephen Martin, who has a Ph.D. in immunology; he is promoting his therapy in the blog and seems to be defensive about what he does as it doesn't seem to be widely respected in the medical community; however, he quote legitimate research, although I cannot judge whether his interpretation of these studies is accurate), this tumor marker could also go up when the tumor is dying.

Dr. Kenyon also said that this test measures growing tissue, which could be an indication of another thing going on with my skin. In the area where there were skin mets (as opposed to just the rash) - that cauliflower area - I started to develop a hard thick scab. So, Dr. Kenyon advised me to soften it up a bit by putting aloe vera gel on it. The scab sloughed off last week, leaving an open wound that is about 3 inches long and half inch or so wide. A few small, pencil-eraser-width areas have bled a little and the whole thing weeps a yellowish clear fluid. Not a lot, but a little bit. So, I've been keeping it clean, patting it dry, and putting a non-stick dressing on it. I asked him if there was anything else I could do and his reply was to keep it clean and dry. It may take several months for this to heal! Bummer, but what can I do? At any rate, he said that the elevated CA 15-3 test may be an indicator of my body trying to regenerate the skin in this area.

In the meantime, no swimming pools for me! Double-bummer, because on Friday, my sister and her husband and two kids and Eddie and I are heading to a place called the Great Wolf Lodge, in Grand Mound, Washington, just south of Olympia. It apparently has one of the largest indoor water parks, including this funnel-like thing called the Hurlin' Tornado, that you go down in a four-person raft. Ah well. My sister said that they could take Eddie with them. That means that I'll get to go to the spa instead! And, get a manicure and a massage, too, I think! Yippee!


Jeanne said...

Dee--sorry you couldn't go in the water because of this. Your chemo is probably also making you slow to heal, don't you think?

I'm seeing Dr. Lee on Friday, after not seeing him for eight weeks--I'd kind of like to just get on another train and miss my appt., but of course I won't. I need a round of tests, and I'm getting awfully tired of them.


Dee said...

Jeanne, I hear ya about not wanting to undergo a whole round of tests . . . I hate getting those needle sticks! But I also like the peace of mind associated with them, too, as clues to what's going on with my body.

I saw an exchange about skin mets on last night and one woman said that she takes an herb called "cumirin" which is in tumeric. I just checked with my Indian (from India) colleague who told me that tumeric is used all the time in ayurvedic medicine, so he's going to bring me some tumeric that I can make into a paste to go on the open wound. He says it helps it to heal quicker and just overall supports the body - it will cool the heat there, it has anti-cancer, antibiotic, anti-fungal properties, and it will allow the heat to escape while also supporting healing. He said it might sting a bit, but since I don't have sensation there anyway, I'm not too concerned about it. We'll try it and see what happens!