Topic: CA19-9 , what does it all mean?

I have Stage IV Cholangiocarcinoma, already completely invaded my liver (think pate) and lymph nodes, unresectable, blah blah blah.  But I am still unclear about the meaning of tumor markers.  geez, and here I am a nurse.  My CA19-9 when I was diagnosed was (drumroll please) 729, yes, seven HUNDRED twenty nine.  The MDs were pretty impressed.  I just got the results back after 3 weeks of chemo and again they were impressed, happily so, because it had gone down to 376.  But what exactly does that mean?  does the decrease mean that the tumors are slowing their rate of growth?  While I am happy at the result, I don't just like to go on a number.  Shoot, my LFT's are back to normal, but I still have cancer, ha.  And I still have my terrible sense of humor

Re: CA19-9 , what does it all mean?

Hi CDR. Glad to hear you have humour inspite of it all!!
I was never sure what it meant, and I know that someone clever will answer you more intelligently, but yes, i think it is an indication that the tumours are slowing down, or somethng like that. Mind you, I also read in a simlilar post recently, and was also told, not to put too much hope into the readings, for some reason. Have you tried using the search facilty on this site, hang on...........yes, it works for this. At the top of the screen next to user list, click on search, and type in CA19-9, and it will throw up posts that contain that phrase. There were lots! It will give you something to do while you wait for more intelligent answers!!
Keep smiling!

Re: CA19-9 , what does it all mean?

I'm not sure you'll ever get the clear and conclusive explanation of what the CA19-9 number means that we would all like to have!
In my case most of my doctors carefully say they don't put much stake in the absolute number, we all respond differently.  I have tracked all my labs for over 4 years now and my feeling is that the trend of the CA19-9 (up or down) is indicative of the course my disease is taking.  Simply put it was up before surgery, lower after surgery, stable for a while then a slow increase until the beginning of the treatment I am now on during which time is has steadily declined.  This also follows my clinical symptoms.
So my laymans deduction........the trend of CA19-9 is worth watching to judge the progression of CC.   Many, but not all, of my Doctors agree with this.  The ones who do not endorse it simply remain silent on the subject.
Confused yet?
-Peter

Re: CA19-9 , what does it all mean?

Peter wrote:

Confused yet?
-Peter

yes, but that's a genetic condition with me, or maybe it's the marinol  P-)

Re: CA19-9 , what does it all mean?

I am wondering why our doctor doesn't monitor my husband's CA10-0.  he only checks the CEA...
Anyone have ideas on why??? 
I stay confused with all these numbers.

My husband is Tommy.  He has esophageal and bile duct cancer.
He is doing great!!
Keep the faith.

Laura

Re: CA19-9 , what does it all mean?

CDR.... I would like to just echo the layman's deduction  Peter gave to you.  I have also watched my CA19-9 go up and down before and after treatments.  It has been a very good indicator of how my cancer is progressing or if it is regressing or slowing down a little.  I also rely on CT Scans every 2-3 months and any change in pain location, I will advocate for a MRI or Nuclear Bone Scan to confirm or rule out any mets/tumors growing else where. 

Laura.... I'm not sure what a CA10-0 test would indicate.  Sorry, but I'll do some research though. 
Jeff G.

Take it to the Limit,One More Time! (Eagles)