Side Effects & Tumor Markers

Hi all,

I completed my treatment for CC in May’15. Diagnosed with stage 1b2 in Oct’14 when I delivered my baby girl. 3 weeks later, had a radical hysterectomy. Due to positive node involvement, had 5 weeks of chemorad followed by 4 cycles of taxol/carbo to reduce risk of recurrence.

My recovery hasn’t been great and side effects are plenty. The most disturbing of all are my insomnia, mood swings and daily tension headaches which started since the start of chemotherapy. On a daily basis, I get tension headaches around the front and back of my head as well as jabbing pain intermittently. My oncologist attributed them to lack of hormones after the treatment induced menopause. So now I’m placed on HRT Estrofem 1mg but the headaches still persist. I’m wondering if anyone of you have similar experiences?

My follow up is every 3 months (bloodtest, pap smear, internal exam, ultrasound) and yearly PET/CT. The bloodtest actually causes me anxiety when I see my tumor markers rising. Currently they are still within the normal range but seeing them rise just activates my fear of recurrence. My oncologist kept reassuring me that for some of her patients, even the tumor markers rise, could be attributed to vaginal inflammation. But everyday I just keep thinking of the tumor markers and at times feel quite disturbed. Sigh. Will be great to have some support here. God bless!

Hi Ashley,

So sorry to hear what a tough time you have had this year, and so soon after the birth of your baby. Giving birth in itself is something of a trauma to the body, and followed so soon after by a major operation and all the chemo rad you have had it is not surprising that you have had loads of side effects. It sounds as though your team are taking great care of you with all the various tests and scans scheduled. Although I have heard of tumor markers, I have not had blood tests to find out which way it is moving. It is important for you to believe what your GP is saying re the tumor markers being very sensitive even to innocent inflammation. Do try not to jump to conclusions, as is natural to do, because as you say you are in the normal range. Just hang onto that. As for the insomnia, that can be caused by so many factors both hormonal and emotional. i find yoga a brilliant way of unwinding, but also good for working on the "core" post hysterectomy. In the past my GP has given me a weeks worth of sleeping tablets to get me back into a rhythm again, so that may be worth a try. Go easy and I hope you can have fun with your baby.

take great care

Hiya, I haven't had a hyster thingy (can't spell it lol) but I get the headaches and they last days more like a migraine - nothing helps mine. I just drink loads of water all the time and suffer I'm afraid :-(.....I also get insomia and it is horrible as i feel ill the next day. I am going through the menopause at 28 bug haven't started anything as I'm waiting for my first set of scans.

i hope you get sorted with the headaches and the insomia stops xx

Hi Ashley,

I'm sorry I have only sympathy to offer. I do know how the follow-up tests can cause enormous anxiety to the point where we would prefer to be tested less often, but as Rachel says, listen to your doctor. If your doctor is calm then you should be too.


Be lucky :-)

Thank you ladies for your replies! Dealing with menopause, headaches and insomnia is truly frustrating! Now I have sleeping pills, melatonin supplements, and head massage tool as my daily companion. Okay, I will try super hard to listen to my doctor and not bother about the creepy tumour markers for now. Urgh. Living each day mindfully is hard. But thankfully I have you folks!