Tuesday, August 12, 2008

High Score!

When I was in school growing up, I tended to get pretty high scores on assignments. I didn't always get 100%, however, and when I got, say, 97, the first thing Dad always said (bless his heart) was "What happened to the other three percent?" I think he was only partly kidding. I assume he was at least partly kidding. So I grew up thinking higher was better.

Well, yesterday in the clinic, my nurse handed me my blood test results and for the first time this go 'round, I saw my tumor marker numbers. The tumor marker tests measure a certain kind of protein in the blood, something that most people have in some amount, but that very much over-expresses when the body is full of tumors. The highest I had ever seen mine before, back in May of 2001 when I had some lung and lymph metastases in my chest, was I believe 176.

Yesterday's score on the CA 27.29, and keep in mind this is a significant drop from the beginning of the summer, was 461. For a little perspective, a normal, cancer-free body will be between 0 and 37. This means that my score is almost 12.5 times greater than the highest recommended score.

The other tumor marker test, the Carcinoembryonic Antigen (which is a newer one that I didn't have before), doesn't show me to be quite the overachiever as the first test. It gives me a score of 15.5 out of a recommended 0 to 2. That's only 7.7 times greater than the highest recommended score.

I don't know what the starting scores were—I never seemed to get a print out that included them and I never bothered to ask—but I would guess, having seen the chart that Dr. Specht drew up for us, that they were somewhere around 600 and 20.

There are, I have come to learn, situations—pain scales, cholesterol, tumor marker tests (some people might even say school)—where a lower score is definitely preferable to a higher one. I'm just glad mine are going down.


allyson said...

Hiya. Going for the Lowest Score! How often will you get these tests? xoxo AQ

Ian said...


CMT said...

I think I'll get another tumor marker test most times I see my doc, so probably next week (last one was dated July 31). I'll try to remember to ask what they are . . .

Shelley said...

wow...i like numbers...though I've learned they don't tell the whole story...glad these have caught up with your "presence"...


Anonymous said...

the Richter scale

Great news that your scores are going down, Calin!
Hugs from Annelie (now in NH)

Anonymous said...

hoo hoo! Excellent news! xoxo Anne & Jason

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I read your comment about tumor marker scores.
I was diagnosed in October 2007 ith stage 2b breast cancer with lymph node involvement under my arm. I WAS GIVEN CHEMO FIRST (TAC)TO SHRINK MY TUMOR. The chemo worked and shrunk my tumor to the size of a marble formt he size of a ping pong ball. After I finshed the Chemo, I had surgery. I had clear margins but at the 9:00 oclock position it was narrow. He also removed 18 lympe nodes with two of them still positve for cancer. My breast surgeon told me I could rely of the radiation I was about to start to kill any cancer cells that may have been left behind near the tumor itself or I could have a re-incision. I elected to have the re-incision. The margins were clean. Then, I had 33 radiation treatments with the last 5 focusing in on the scar areas.
After my radiation treatments were finished on June 11, 2008, I started taking Amimidex, 2 calcium plus vit.d and a multi vitimin every day. I had my tumor marker test done then also and it was a 24. I just went last thurday for my 3 month check up and had another tumor marker test and it is now 31.
This bothers me and I wonder why it went up. The Oncology Dr. told me back in June that anything below a 36 was good. Why the increase I wonder. Coudl it be the stuff I am taking now ? I do not no a lot about these tests and wonder should I worry, too ?
I hope you can learn more from your Dr.s and share it with others. I am sorry your test score was way high. Let me know how you are doing.