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Tumor Markers - For Cancer Diagnosis and Prognosis

Last Updated on Dec 04, 2018
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About Tumor Markers

An ideal tumor marker for a cancer should be specific to that cancer and not generate false positive results. Research is still underway to identify specific markers for different types of cancers.

Tumor markers are substances, mostly proteins, that are produced by the body or by the tumor itself in response to cancer. The tumor markers help both in early detection of the cancer and in monitoring the progress with the treatment.


Tumor markers may be specific for a particular cancer or may be common to a few types of cancers. Alternatively, tumor markers may be present in non-cancerous conditions as well. In this case, these conditions should be ruled out before focusing on cancer. Research is still underway to identify specific markers for different types of cancers.

Tumor Markers

The ideal tumor marker (detected by a blood test) for a cancer will test positive for that malignancy alone, will help to diagnose cancer at the earliest and will help in deciding the effectiveness of the treatment. It should not generate false positive results. So far no ‘model marker’ has been detected.

There are several markers that have been identified, but many had to be shelved due to their non-specificity. This is due to the overlap that occurs between different cancer tissues and the various markers produced by them. As a result, there are just a handful of markers that have been ear-marked by health-care specialists to be used as diagnostic or prognostic tools.

The most widely accepted tumor marker to date is the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) used in the diagnosis and management of prostate cancer.

Tumor markers must not be confused with particular gene mutations that are risk factors for certain kind of cancers. Classical examples are inherited mutations in the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, which can place a person at a higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer. However it is not mandatory that these people develop the cancer.

Tumor marker testing is primarily used for:

  • Diagnosing cancer in an individual
  • Identify the type of cancer
  • Evaluating the prognosis in a patient
  • Screening a healthy or a high- risk population for cancer. These tests provide the specialists with useful information about the disease and also provides a greater insight into disease progression.

Some of the common tumor markers and the associated disease conditions are discussed in the following sections.

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First time my psa check wa 8 the 2 week late after dr provide medice antibiotic , avodart and harnal ocas 400 microgram becomecetafloxo-[Ciprolocacin 500 mg]) increase 13.05 the then dr changed the antibitic Levoxacin 500 mg type then increase13.71. Any advice ?


I am writing concerning my wife,she has always been a very thin, and active person, and never had a weight problem, until about 2 years ago, when she started putting on weight, tho not rapidly but as she has fibromialgia and in on meds for this as well as for other conditions for which she sees our family Dr.on a very regular basis. Every time she tries of talk to Dr. concerening the weight gain, his responce is always "you eat to much". She has had almost every test, but nothing shows up, I am not real knowledgeable concerning medical things, but she has doubled her weight in last 2 years, I feel that there is something growing (tumor?)in her abdomin. Why can't they do and ultra-sound of her tummy area(which is where most weight seems to be located), and how can I convince the Dr.to do this test?
Some time ago I saw a medical tv documtary (sp) where 40 lb. tumor was found in a woman, who's circumstances were much the same as my wifes. I need someone to listen to me and tell me am I crazy or could there be something to be done?
Concerened for My wife

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