CA-125 Cells Up after Tarceva

Have any of you experienced your CA-125 numbers increasing after you finished your rounds of chemo and radiation and after being on Tarceva? My mom is concerned because her numbers are up dramatically since they last tested yet her PET scan is clear anyone in the same situation?

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My doctor does not do a CA-125.

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That is what is so weird to me too. My mom has stage 3a lung cancer left lobectomy and has only had the ca-125 showing up as a tumor marker. That is what they have been regulating her with...anyone else?

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Please explain what CA 125 is ?

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I had a CA 125 blood test when they were monitoring my ovarian cysts. I remember reading at that time that it wasn't 100% reliable because it could be elevated for other types of cancer, lung included. I did not realize they used it for any thing other than checking for ovarian cancer. In my case, the CA 125 was not elevated, I did not have ovarian cancer, yet
1 1/2 years later I was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Tonie, CA stands for Cancer Antigen. It's a blood test that can indicate the presence of cancer. More than that, I can't tell you.

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CA-125 is a blood test that is typically used in the management of patients with ovarian cancer. The CA-125 level can be elevated above the normal level in a variety of other conditions besides ovarian cancer. Because most patients with ovarian cancer have an elevated CA-125 level, it is a good test to use to follow response to a particular treatment (the value decreases if a treatment is working or increases if the tumor is growing).
It was hoped that the CA-125 blood test could also be applied as a screening test to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage in women. A good screening test needs to be safe, specific (elevated only from the particular condition being screened), and make a difference in survival because it allows for early initiation of treatment. A number of studies with many thousands of patients have not shown a benefit to using CA-125 as a screening test for the following reasons:

A number of common benign conditions cause an increase in CA-125 including normal menses, pregnancy, fibroids, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease

Non-gynecologic conditions that elevate the CA-125 level include pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), liver cirrhosis, recent abdominal surgery, and radiation therapy treatments

Other malignant tumors such as breast, lung, colon, and pancreas can increase the CA-125
Because so many other conditions can elevate the CA-125 level, this test has a significant number of false positive results (i.e., it is not very specific). If every patient with a positive result underwent additional work-up, many patients would require a surgical exploration of the abdomen to definitively rule out a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Surgery can cause significant side effects and even rarely death. It also turns out studies have shown no impact on the rate of death by using the CA-125 as a screening test. Thus, as a screening test in a patient without a diagnosis of ovarian cancer or strong suspicion of its presence, CA-125 does not fulfill the important requirements of a screening test. The risks do not outweigh the benefits, the test is not very specific in its diagnosis, and it has not been shown to significantly impact survival.

Routine screening of asymptomatic patients with a CA-125 level is not currently recommended. There are however individual instances where getting a CA-125 test is prudent. Some physicians still favor the test in patients with a strong family history of ovarian cancer and combine screening for ovarian cancer with pelvic and ultrasound examinations. Regular CA-125 blood tests are clearly indicated in patients previously diagnosed with ovarian cancer to follow response of treatment or catch a recurrence at an early stage.

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Lastly I found this on the CA_125 testing in relation to lung cancer maybe others are curious about it...
CA 125 : very interesting marker for ovarian cancer : the CA 125 is the essential marker for this cancer. It’s THE marker in serous adenocarcinomas. The cut-off at 35 UI/l allows distinguishing women free of cancer from patients suffering this cancer, with a specificity between 82-100%.
In mucinous carcinomas, it has to be associated with CEA and CA 19-9.
In germinal tumors, we associate it with AFP and BHCG (see below).
CA 125 is also used in lung cancer : in the “small cells” form, it’s used with the NSE

My mother has adenocarcinoma NSCLC stage 3A.

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I am one of the lucky ones whose NSCLC IV has been held stable for over two years by Tarceva. Recently, my doctor has been ordering the CA-125 test as part of my regular blood work.

From a base of about 33, one month it moved up to 58, which was a worry, but after another month it had dropped back to about 43. The next month was 44. Both of these are somewhat above the normal range, but did not require a change in treatment. I have been told that tumor markers can reflect any rapid cell growth - and that sometimes includes healing of some other injury.

So if there has been just one instance of an elevated CA-125 I think your mom should rejoice in her clear PET scan, and if the CA-125 continues to be high, ask for a full explanation from the doctor.

Good healing to your mom and thanks for an informative post.


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Thanks Susan your info will be of much intrest to my mother as it was to me. I love hearing survivor stories and it gives my mother such a boost! Continued health and prayer to you...Thanks again, Kim:)

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