Little Miss Marker

After a few days of waiting for my oncologist (or her delegate) to call me with my tumor marker number, I came home late yesterday to a voicemail that simply said “your tumor marker is stable”.  Yea!  Great news!  But I wanted THE NUMBER.  I know I should be happy with “stable”, but I wanted to know where I fell.  Anything under 37 is good, and the number can fluctuate.

When I met with the Best Doctors doctor back in October, here’s what I learned: “As long as it’s in range, it’s ok.  But primarily, the CA 27-29 marker is used for metastatic breast cancer (which mine is not).   It’s ok to use as a guide; certainly if it went up, it would be something to look into.  But it can fluctuate and can also spike during illness, so sometimes you have a false positive.  He indicated that the standard follow up for non-metastatic breast cancer is mammograms, physical exam, and labs.  Since I won’t be having a mammo ever again, it will be physical exam for me.  He also said they monitor the liver and kidney functions, as an example, and look for anomalies.”

But since it IS one of the tests they perform, I wanted to know.  When I had these labs taken back in September 2012, my first tumor marker test was at 55.90.  So I called today and learned that my CA 27-29 tumor marker was 17.1.  I’ve been hovering in the 15-17 range, so that keeps me happy.  Also, all my liver and kidney functions were within normal range.  (By the way, I didn’t know which of my labs were specific to my liver… apparently there are several.  I found the definitions here:


Little Miss Marker (1934) –


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