We use tumor markers to detect the presence of certain types of cancer in the body, and to monitor the progress of cancer treatment.
Tumor markers are substances found in the blood, body fluids, or tissues that are produced by cancer cells. If a certain tumor marker is found in the body, it can indicate that the cancer is still present and ongoing treatment may still be recommended.
Specifically, we can use this test (in conjunction with other tests) to monitor the success of a current therapy, evaluate the need for surgical intervention, or assess the development of recurrence.
Common tumor markers
Some examples of common tumor markers include:
- CA15-3 is a tumor marker for breast cancer.
- CA19-9 antigen has been shown to be elevated in the blood of some patients with gastrointestinal tumors.
- CA-125 is a marker for monitoring disease progression in ovarian cancers.
- PSA is a marker for monitoring disease progression in prostate cancers.
- CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) is useful in monitoring patients with various types of malignancies, such as gastrointestinal, pancreatic, breast, and lung cancers.