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A 48-year-old member asked:

What are tumor markers, and does having them mean that i have cancer?

3 doctor answers11 doctors weighed in
Dr. Kevin Scher
Hematology and Oncology 14 years experience
Blood tests: Tumor markers are blood tests that are sometimes used to follow progression of cancer once it has already been diagnosed. We rarely, if ever, use tumor makers to make a cancer diagnosis. There are many other reasons why these markers may be elevated including inflammation, infection, etc.
Dr. Matt Malkin
Anesthesiology 16 years experience
Tumor markers: A term to just describe all the things you might find if cancer is present. Can be a substance like CEA or certain gene mutations seen in cancer cells when dna is analyzed. Many are normal in low concentrations, but not high ones. If your levels are high then your physician will start looking for tumors or have confirmed one. If normal, then less-concerned.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Radiation Oncology 47 years experience
Testis Cancer has: Reliable tumor markers (tm): Alpha feto-protein and hcg. None of the others (cea, ca 125, ca 19 9 etc) are diagnostic or used in screening, and are weakly correlated with response AFP & HCG are well correlated with response or progression. Tm's should be done rarely if at all. They are costly and provide uneiable information.

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A 41-year-old member asked:

Does low levels of tumor marker indicate no more cancer?

2 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Gurmukh Singh
Pathology 49 years experience
Comparative values: Tumor markers allow for monitoring the response to treatment by serially testing for the levels. A low level may be due to remission, without elimination of the tumor and levels could increase with recurrence of tumor. Therefore low levels do not necessarily mean "no more cancer".

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Last updated Oct 24, 2017
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