Should My Tumor Marker Go To Zero?

Last Modified: January 24, 2012

Question

Should my tumor marker go to zero when I am done treatment?

Answer

Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN, OncoLink Nurse Educator, responds:

This really depends on what the marker is (some are normally found in low levels in the body), what the treatment was (taking hormone therapy for metastatic breast cancer can take several months until a drop in markers) and some treatments work over time, such as radiation, meaning the marker decreases to a low point over a period of months. In addition, some other health issues can raise certain markers as can lifestyle (smoking can raise CEA, heavy alcohol use can affect a few markers).

Learn more about tumor markers: http://www.oncolink.org/treatment/article.cfm?c=17&s=136&id=296

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Interpreting Test Results transcript.

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