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MD's: can cancer markers be used to detect cancer??(6 posts)

MD's: can cancer markers be used to detect cancer??weiwentg
Jul 3, 2002 10:43 PM
my mom just went for a blood test, and the marker that indicates the presence of colon cancer is slightly elevated. this was done at her gynecologist's suggestion. however, the family doctor is adamant that blood cancer markers aren't used to detect cancer, merely to track the status of remission; this sounds odd to me, but I've not taken any sort of biology class. what's the deal?
anyway, all the other markers are fine, and she eats vegetables by the megaton, so I wouldn't think she's likely to get colon cancer. her gynecologist suggested she go for a colonoscopy; the family doctor said it's unnecessary, and is having her test for blood in her stool.
re: MD's: can cancer markers be used to detect cancer??critmass
Jul 4, 2002 8:11 AM
It depends on the marker. Dysplasia, an abnormal change in cell tissue, is the most widely used marker for colon cancer.
If a change has occurred in the DNA of p53 or if sialosyl-Tn was found she definitely needs a closer look. A colonoscopy is one way to gather more information. Do a net search on Dysplasia and colon cancer and read about it.
re: MD's: can cancer markers be used to detect cancer??weiwentg
Jul 4, 2002 5:40 PM
her C.E.A. marker (not sure what that is) is 6.7; normal reading is less than 5.1. is that good or bad? I don't see a test for p53or sialosyl-Tn here. they only tested for alpha-feto protein, serum CAs 15.3, 19.9 and 125, and CEA.
re: MD's: can cancer markers be used to detect cancer??critmass
Jul 4, 2002 7:29 PM
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a tumor marker used for lung and colon and to a lesser degree breast and ovarian cancers. Normal values would be 3 ng/ml to 5 ng/ml.
If her primary physician knows her health record well he may be justified in not being alarmed about an under 10 level in CEA with no above normal 19.9. She needs to listen to what both doctors are saying about what an under 10 level means with her health record. Looking for a mutation of the p53 tumor suppressor gene is what I was talking about earlier. Your mothers doctor did a simple standard test.
Jul 5, 2002 9:33 PM
her primary physician has been our primary physician for longer than I've been alive (21 years), but I don't know how many hormone tests she's done. we'll just have to see the stool samples. thanks!
They're useful to trigger other tests ...Humma Hah
Jul 5, 2002 3:47 PM
... for prostate cancer, the PSA test is useful. Elevated PSA is something that can be detected in a simple blood test, may show cancers before they reach the point where the finger-up-the-butt test detects them. Most doctors recommend both tests, because the PSA test does not detect all cancers.

But either of these tests is only a screening trigger. Once cancer is suspected, they do a biopsy and examine the cells.

A marker indicating possible colon cancer is more than adequate excuse to have that same exam Bush just had done. If you've reached age 50, you should have one anyway, and repeats every few years thereafter, positive marker or not.