Procedure

Cancer Marker Blood Test- Cancer/Oncology

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What is cancer (tumor) marker?

Tumor marker is a substance, which is produced by cancerous cell in the body in response to cancer or some noncancerous conditions. During malignancy, there is increased production of tumor markers. They can be detected in blood, urine, tumor tissue or other type of body fluids from patient suffering from cancer.

Why cancer marker blood test is done?

Cancer marker test is done to plan the appropriate treatment. This test also helps to determine if the current treatment is effective or not. This test also helps to determine if cancer has spread to other tissues and also helps to predict the course of the disease. When this test is done after a successful treatment, it helps to determine if cancer has reoccurred after the treatment or not. This test helps to identify individuals who are at high risk of cancer.

Which cancer markers can be detected in blood?

Following is the list of some of the cancer markers which can be detected in blood:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP): This cancer marker helps to diagnose liver cancer as well as response after the treatment. In addition, it also helps to evaluate stage, prognosis, and response to treatment of germ cell tumors.
  • Beta-2-microglobulin (B2M): It helps to determine prognosis and follow response to treatment in cases of some lymphomas, multiple myeloma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  • Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (Beta-hCG): It helps to assess stage, prognosis, and response to treatment of choriocarcinoma and germ cell tumors.
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations: It is helpful to determine whether treatment with a specific type of targeted therapy is suitable for ovarian cancer.
  • BCR-ABL fusion gene (Philadelphia chromosome): It helps to confirm diagnosis, predict response to targeted therapy, and monitor disease status in conditions such as chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and acute myelogenous leukemia.
  • CA15-3/CA27.29: In patients with breast cancer, this marker helps to evaluate whether treatment is working or the cancer has recurred.
  • CA19-9: It is helpful to evaluate whether treatment is working in patients suffering from pancreatic cancer or gallbladder cancer.
  • CA-125: It helps in diagnosis, evaluation of response to treatment, and assessment of recurrence of ovarian cancer.
  • Calcitonin: It helps in diagnosis, evaluation of response to treatment, and assessment of recurrence of medullary thyroid cancer.
  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA): It helps in evaluation of response to treatment and assessment of recurrence of colorectal cancer.
  • CD20: It helps to determine whether treatment with a targeted therapy is suitable in Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Chromogranin A (CgA): It helps in evaluation of response to treatment and assessment of recurrence of neuroendocrine tumors.
  • Circulating tumor cells of epithelial origin (CELLSEARCH®): It is helpful to inform clinical decision making, and to evaluate prognosis of metastatic breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers.
  • Cytokeratin fragment 21-1: It helps to monitor recurrence of lung cancer.
  • HE4: It helps to plan cancer treatment, evaluate disease development, and monitor for recurrence in patients with ovarian cancer.
  • Immunoglobulins: They help in evaluation of response to treatment and assessment of recurrence of multiple myeloma and waldenström macroglobulinemia.
  • Lactate dehydrogenase: It is helpful to evaluate stage, prognosis, and response to treatment in various cancers such as germ cell tumors, lymphoma, leukemia, melanoma, and neuroblastoma.
  • Neuron-specific enolase (NSE): It helps in diagnosis and to evaluate response to treatment in cases of small cell lung cancer or neuroblastoma.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): It helps in evaluation of response to treatment and assessment of recurrence of prostate cancer.
  • Thyroglobulin: It helps to assess response to treatment and look for recurrence of thyroid cancer.
  • 5-Protein signature (OVA1®): It helps to pre-operatively assess pelvic mass for suspected ovarian cancer.

Sources:

  • https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/tumor-marker-tests/
  • https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/diagnosis/tumor-markers-fact-sheet
About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.

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