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Tumour Markers ... ?


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Hi everyone ...

Like everyone else I guess, I'm looking to grab any good news with regard to this disease and would value everyone's opinions. After eleven doses of GemCis treatment, my partner's particular markers (adenosquamous carcinoma) have come down from 10,000 at the beginning, to 6,500 a month ago to 2,750 today. How good - or misleading - is this?

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Hi Emcee

The reduction in the tumour markers can only be a good thing, although they're not the be all and end all. I'm not sure which particular marker testing you're referring to but my husband's is the CA19-9 tumour markers. If this is the test you're referring to and the lab is using the same criteria (not all do), the 'normal' range is between 0 and 60. So, next time you go to the hospital grab a nurse and get them to explain exactly what tumour markers are being referred to and what the 'normal' range is.

Tumour markers are one tool to measure the benefits of the chemotherapy. Others include general health, how well the patient is tolerating chemo and weight. After a number of treatments your partner will probably be offered a CT scan which will obviously show what effect the chemotherapy has had and that is probably the most accurate way to assess the situation. There's a member of the forum who said that they(or their relative - I can't remember the detail) had a low tumour marker count which never went above the norm but I don't know how common that is. Nevertheless such a huge reduction in markers can only be encouraging!

Take care and let us know how you and your partner are doing from time to time.


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Hi Nicki ...

Thanks for taking the time to reply.

This is my partner's second session of 3 x 3 treatments (total 11 treatments in all). Her tumour started off at around 80mm but, size-wise, had reduced by 10% / 20% after the first session whilst the 'markers' as of today's date were as stated in my first post.

However, I will dig a little deeper when we go next time based on your information. Many thanks again ...


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Hi Mark

i do hope this is the good news you have been waiting for it does sound encouraging news

do let us know how things go

love Pauline

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Hi Mark

Glad to learn that your partner is doing ok on the chemo.

I put a message on the advanced cancer thread for you, a short while ago, regarding Omega 3. I wonder - if you have a minute to spare - if you could read it and give me any info you might have please?

Thanks and best wishes to you and your partner


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Hi everyone

My husband has just had his second chemo session today. So far, so good.....

I asked about tumour markers and was told they will probably check it (CA19-9) every month. At the moment, his is 82. Not sure if this is good or bad, only know that 0-35 is "normal". Any thoughts on that, Nicki? I know how good you are with info!

In general, hubby doing ok. Has back pain a lot and pain in his right arm, if he moves it certain ways. He is trying to manage with Tramadol + paracetamol (Diclofenac, if needed). We are both loathe for him to start using morphine unless he really does need it. Nurse said to use it, rather than suffer, but it seems a "last resort" if pain is really severe. Hoping that the chemo will reduce these symptoms though.

Best wishes to all



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Hi Ellie

As I said to Mark, a mere number attributed to tumour markers isn't the be all and end all. The important thing is how the test reacts to the chemo, ie whether the number goes down or up over time. The reason for this is that individuals react differently - a low tumour marker count could simply be that the body isn't producing the protein which reacts to the tumour in great quantity, as was previously reported by one of the forum members. Having said that, Ted's were over 10 times 'normal' when he started chemo, so when you say your husband's are 82 against a normal range of 0-35, that doesn't sound horrific to me.

It's interesting, though, that your husband's markers will only be monitored monthly - Ted's blood test includes the CA19-9 each week. It might be worth asking the chemo nurses whether they would add the test onto the request weekly rather than monthly. The reason I say this is because after a while, as you know, chemo becomes draining and exhausting and Ted finds that if his tumour markers have gone down, this encourages him to continue.

I'm sorry to hear that your husband is still in pain and hope that improves soon. Interestingly, there have been studies comparing Tramadol (a synthetic opioid) with Morphine (an opioid). One of those can be found here:


The executive summary, if you don't want to read it is:

"... tramadol and morphine are potent analgesics in severe chronic pancreatitis pain ... Tramadol interfered significantly less with gastrointestinal function and was more often rated as an excellent analgesic than morphine."

Obviously, I'm no doctor but it might be worth asking the consultant/nurse specialist whether they're aware of this report and whether it has any effect on their recommendation.

Kind regards

Nicki x

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