When I asked he said, "They are not good tests", and was going to have his nurse get me more info. As usual, I didn't see the follow up info. Small hospitals, gotta love em. I suspect Schulick's article would be the main reason as it's publication coincides with when my Hep started getting cagey about the CA19-9 tests. I understand Schulick's is a metastudy that verified the low reliability of CA19-9 at predicting CC, while it is effective at verifying ongoing CC. With my complications from diabetes and NALF in particular, dramatically increases the production of alpha-fetoprotein as the liver & pancreas attempt to regenerate/repair. CEA also is a poor marker for pre-metastized CC, but is effective for validation. So the short statement, blood markers are not effective at finding early CC after the liver is as damaged as mine is. Of course, my MELD is only 11. No, no, never mind daily pain, severe fatigue, mild hepatic encephalopathy and intermittent asterixes, astices and cholangitis, I'm not sick enough yet... I do wish UNOS would modify their rules for PSC/PBC. Or else, I'm just eating a bottle of Tylenol and dialing 911, that'll get a liver for me. [sarcasm]
He also disagreed on more than annual CT/PET scans. Getting my insurance company to sign on for more than one per year would be a fight, and I'd need him on my side. Plus, that's a lot of milirads - when you are worried about cancer, where is the line between utility and risk?
A second opinion on the CT/PET is problematic. There is one hepatologist in a 100 mile circle, which makes sense since we have no active liver transplant center. My GI is in the same clinic as my hep, and defers all liver questions to the liver expert. My internist is horrible, I only see her b/c my insurance company requires an internist or general MD as primary caregiver. I am within an overnight drive of Mayo Rochester, which is a fine CC and PSC institution. I can certainly badger my hepatologist into referring me there for a second opinion, but I'm not sure of the benefit. I'd like more frequently screening, but I don't know if any screening is effective.