Friday, August 7, 2009

The Other Tumor Marker Results and My Visit with Dr. K

So, my other number came back - it was 29.7. It went up from 22.1. Here's the history:

Sept 2007 - 23 U/mL
Jan 2008 - 31 U/mL
Mar 2008 - 36 U/mL
June 2008 - 23 U/mL (started radiation that month)
Aug 2008 - 18 U/mL (week of August 4th)
Sept 2008 - 14.5 U/mL YAAAAAAY!!!
Oct 1 2008 - 19.6 U/mL
Oct 31 2008 - 15.3 U/mL
Nov 28 2008 - 19.5 U/mL
Dec 30 2008 - 16.0 U/mL
Jan 22 2009 - 15.4 U/mL
Mar 2 2009 - 17.8 U/mL
Apr 8 2009 - 19.6 U/mL
May 5 2009 - 18.4 U/mL
June 4 2009 - 19.7 U/mL
July 2 2009 - 22.1 U/mL
Aug 3 2009 - 29.7 U/mL

So, it's jumped up some this month. I was a little disappointed. But as my friend said to me in an email, maybe fighting this disease is a bit like turning around a train. You got to put the brakes on first before you can turn it around.

I think I may have posted before, but the CA15-3 measures a protein that is released by breast cells and it may go UP when cancer cells are dying as well as when cancer is growing. It can also measure inflammation and not necessarily just cancer cells.

My other number didn't go up as much - that was the CEA or cancinoembryonic antigen. It measures a protein that is found in many different kinds of cells but "associated with tumor cells". Interestingly, it says that sometimes with chemo and radiation, that number does go up because of the death of cancer cells, which releases more of the CEA into the blood stream.

Sooo . . . my thought is that the CA15-3 number jumped up because the drugs are working and are causing more cell death. In other words, because cancer cells grow and die at a faster rate than normal cells, these numbers tend to go up in cancer patients; but it can also go up if chemotherapy is causing the cells to die faster than they would do otherwise.

I asked Dr. K about it the fact that the numbers go up and his reply is that it does take several weeks or a couple of months for the medications to build up in your system, up to a level that can counteract the drugs. So, he wants to stay the course and not do anything differently to my medication regimen. I'll see him again next month and we'll see what happens then.

I choose to think that the drugs are doing their work and next month, we'll see those numbers go down. Dr. K says that we want to contain the cancer again and then go on a maintenance regimen. Sounds good to me! We started to talk about more options . . . just so I'm prepared . . . but for now, there will be no changes.

I was feeling down because the meds do sap me of some energy. I think my body is telling me to slow down. So, I'm trying to . . . LOL

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