Cancer Tumor Markers - know where you stand

 When you are diagnosed with cancer, you would have a plethora of questions concerning every aspect of your condition. Especially questions such as "why me?", when I have been so smart with food choices and careful to detoxify all my life? How come others with toxic lifestyles can get away with a clean slate? Why didn't I know sooner? Now what should I do - follow my doctors orders in spite of misgivings? Who should I trust? Why is there so much contradiction amongst the experts - mainstream and alternative specialists alike? Which cures, therapies, options should I choose or do I even get to choose? Do I have the right to choose? Which doctors are telling me I don't have time to think and what is their motive? Does leaving thorough research to family members make me feel secure?
etc...


All these rational doubts and questions are heaped on top of the initial diagnosis shock,  family pressures, fear and worries about the future.

Then you see that there is an incredible volume of information that you would like to digest and consider before making ANY decisions - even when your background may not have been in research or health or healing, you know you can get your head around some of it. Then there’s the terminology that bowls you over: metabolic  versus eclectic, complementary and alternative, holistic versus adjunctive, functional versus organic.
Overwhelm!
And then friends and loved ones add more information into the mix and offer more than assistance.
Therapies outside of the pharmaceutically based Western mainstream accepted methods are often considered suspiciously or as downright quackery - but why? Should you not also be suspicious of chemotherapy - which was NEVER studied in a double-blind cross-over clinical setting, after all. How can such toxic liquids be very successful or good for me, you ask? After all, given the hundreds of billions of private and tax research dollars that society has poured into 'the cure' over a century and especially since Nixon's 'war on cancer'… should these harsh chemicals now not be perfected by now? Just how have these toxins been successful so far? Are they better than the placebo success rates?

Some alternatives are goofy, concocted by dilettantes and shady types, and people who don’t have your best interests at heart or who are generally ineffective and mis-informed. Yet some alternative therapies are amazingly clever and in tune with nature and have yielded very good results (and often in dire circumstances as most alternative therapies are sought and used after all other Western mainstream therapies have been used and the patient is in severely depleted and toxic shape!)

So you will want to read and learn a lot in a very short time.
You may want to see specialists that you may never have considered seeing before, such as naturopaths and/or a psychologist, for example, for a second opinion - not a second opinion similar to the first opinion - but a TRUE second look from within a second modality or paradigm. This is not the kind of advice your GP would offer.

You may want to gather a trusted small group of people around you - your team - and they will give you a sense of control and protection if you state the terms they are chosen on - while you remain the quarterback. They can come with you to each and every meeting and be an extra set of ears and take notes and be supportive. At check-ups, tests and appointments you need to understand ALL your options and ask lots of questions - clipboard in hand, taking notes and showing how very serious YOU are in deciding what YOU need and that it is YOUR decision-making that will prevail, while you concentrate on asking the questions and leaving all doors open…
Then there is always an opportunity for a de-briefing afterwards between you and the person who came with you - more ears and eyes mean more information to digest after each event - nothing wasted. YOUR team is working for YOU - each may even have a specialty - as well as YOUR best interests and empowerment.

Mainstream cancer agencies offer a luxury that often goes unnoticed. Decisions are made on your behalf with little or no input by yourself. Appointments are scheduled, transportation by volunteers is arranged, etc., and little is required of you except to show up, cope, have faith and follow orders. And your provincial Medical Plan in Canada and/or your American Medical plans pay for a large portion of this "health" care, to boot! That can be a real relief in the face of chaos. If this resonates with you strongly - you may have found the type of cancer care you like.

In holistic / naturopathic / alternative healing, cancer care your challenge is seen as a total-body problem and as multi-factoral in nature and the return to wellness is perceived as complex and unique to you and so therefore your therapy will be designed as such, too.
Few alternative therapies believe in toxic approaches - deeming them to be an unjustified premise to start with and not very effective. The "fighting for your life" and "war on the cancer cells" metaphores type of mindset may not always be considered healing, either! Working "with" your body in a mindfull, loving, determined manner may be more useful.

(Alternatives therapies worth their salt will not hide behind the "genetics" curtain.) When toxins get the "blame" for any cancers, then logic is missing, too. When raw vegetables are going to cure you - then run like hell, too.

"Stress" as the often-sited culprit is about as vague and obtuse as describing thirst as the reason for alcoholism. This doesn't diminish the huge amount of stress any diagnosis heaps onto an individual. A true "whole-istic" therapy must drill down to exactly the emotional / situational / shock / conflict that triggered the body's cellular growth deviation or malfunction. Cells don't deviate or proliferate for some vague or rogue unknown reasons in some of us and not in others. Pinpointing the exact emotional / situational / shock / conflict cause is no longer a mystery.

We should never accept that a specific chemo treatment, for example, when applied to two identical patients under identical circumstances can result in two different outcomes - I call this science-fiction! Yet in orthodox medicine and in some of alternative medicine this outrageous nonsense abounds! …and when in doubt, just blame those genes and toxins and cooked meats!

Your new path may open doors never known to you! You will incorporate methods that are the bare basics: maybe some serious detoxification in some cases, rebuilding the immune system in some cases, using some of the right therapies for you to reduce the cancer itself and embracing significant ways to work with the body-mind connection and, out of necessity, to discover and work with the underlying emotion(s) / conflict that propelled your health challenge in the first place.
(So, you see, it is much more than becoming an organic vegan. seeing a homeopath and taking weekly meditation and yoga classes as they would have you believe at 'integrated' clinics!)

So you assemble a team - they surround you with support and work hard on your behalf. You design the "wish" list while not being pressured by anyone... you're the boss.
Well... a bit of pressure on one person... you can put some on your G.P.
First, if a tumour marker test was not immediately, automatically ordered either by the G.P.  or specialist you were referred to, then you will have to ask for it. All information should come back to the G. P. - either automatically or by his/her request. If neither the test and/or results were ordered, you'll have to be given a damn good reasoned as to why not.
Hand-in-glove with  cancer diagnosis comes the request for this very inexpensive, simple blood test. This is a bio-chemical way of keeping track of where your cancer is at - less guessing and therefore somewhat empowering. It is telling that some cancer clinics and doctors and specialists would just as soon let you forget this worthy tests exist... why should you wish to keep track of things yourself?
If you are diagnosed and NO tumour markers are ordered, you’d want to know why and think twice about how serious your “care” is taken and if you want to keep this doctor when you need them on your side more than ever. Maybe tumour markers are not known to that particular doctor or maybe they don’t know which ones to requisite, but there is NO excuse for NO markers.

Biopsies as the definitive answer ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. As one Vancouver lab worker explained privately... "the lab is busier and more chaotic than the post office at Xmas! What did you s cancer expect?"

When my late husband was initially diagnosed with cancer and the tumour was smaller than the size of his pinky fingernail, he was given a proper cancer diagnosis by biopsy. Some months later another biopsy showed 'the possibility' of cancer cells but by then his cancer has spread throughout his esophagus such that it was closed! A follow-up biopsy, when his cancer had spread to include most of his vital organs except for his heart and lungs, gave him the ALL CLEAR! No Cancer cells were found in the biopsy! Each time the biopsy was performed by an incredibly skilled and briliant doctor. The tumour marker tests were a God-send - they were accurate - on the mark!out it

There is an off-shore cancer urine test that is also inexpensive and accurate - read about it at: http://www.navarromedicalclinic.com.

 (Another method of keeping track would be live blood analysis - less well known and not performed by mainstream doctors - and beware of people schlepping supplements.)

 

We have listed the more common tumour markers below so you can familiarize yourself with them and choose what you need and ask for them - as many as seem appropriate.
 
AFP (alpha feto-protein) measures the level of the AFP protein (found in everyone’s blood). Higher levels are associated with pregnancy, fetuses, young children and malignancy. It can be elevated with primary tumours of the liver, endodermal tissue and with non-seminomatous testicular germ-cell tumours. It can also show elevated levels pancreatic cancers, gastric cancers, colonic cancers, and bronchogenic cancers
CA 15-3 - uses cancer Antibodies for measuring and is a particular protein that is shed by breast tumor cells, making it useful as a tumor marker to follow the course of therapy. It is elevated in about 30% of women (or more) with localised breast cancer and in about 75% of those with invasive breast cancer (cancer that has metastasised) and may also be elevated in people with other cancers and conditions such as colorectal cancer, lung cancer, cirrhosis, hepatitis and benign breast disease.
CA 19-9 useful to help differentiate between cancer of the pancreas and bile ducts and some other conditions; used to monitor responses to pancreatic, gastric, hepatic and colorectal cancer treatments and to watch for recurrence.
CA 125 - used for detecting high risk ovarian cancer and tracking treatment and therapy (80% sensitivity) and uterine cancer (60% sensitivity).
CEA - an enzyme immunoassay using a monoclonal antibody against glycoprotein produced by immature and / or malignant cells originating - in the gut. Elevated levels are associated with  carcinoma of the rectum, colon, lung and breast. Smokers can have a higher “normal” range than non-smokers and not have cancer.
DM/70K - used for detecting ovarian cancer (70% sensitivity), gynecologic malignancies and cancer of the lung and breast.
hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) - used to measure hormones made by the placenta during pregnancy or to diagnose trophoblastic disease or germ cell tumors such as of the testicular and ovarian and some lung cancers.
LASA-P a biomarker useful in a wide range of malignancies which measures alterations in the surface membrane (lipid associated sialic acid in plasma). 

More tumour marker details at: http://www.tc-cancer.com/tumormarkers.html
and
http://www.medical-labs.net/whole-list-of-tumor-markers-and-their-sites-...
and
http://www.cisncancer.org/research/new_treatments/tumor_markers/index.html
https://twitter.com/haneen_maghrabi/status/482781630843465728

Merrie Bakker
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