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A 35-year-old male asked:

What does tumour markers (for testicular cancer)mean? does the cancer have to be wide spread before it shows in the blood?

5 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Lawrence Hochman
Radiation Oncology 31 years experience
Can help differentia: Tumor markers in testicular cancer such as beta HCG and AFP are not as specific as other markers like psa for prostate cancer, but can be useful in differentiating pure seminoma from mixed or non seminoma testicular cancers. They are not screening tools.
Dr. Esly Caldwell
Internal Medicine 57 years experience
Tumor blood test: Tumors can make substances detectable in the blood that can be novel or abnormal levels of substances normally found.
Dr. Andrew Turrisi
Radiation Oncology 47 years experience
The 2 markers: 1. Alpha-feto-protein, never seen in seminoma, common in embryonal or yolk sac tumors; 2. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hcg), rarely mildy elevated in seminoma, associated with teratoma, dysgerminoma, also pregnancy in women. They are measured before removal, and followed. Should the tumor recur, the marker may rise before the tumor can be seen by imaging.
Dr. Chad Levitt
Radiation Oncology 22 years experience
Depends on tumor: Tumor markers refer to molecules made as products or byproducts of certain tumor cells that are detected in the blood or serum. They can be used to screen for cancer, as in prostate, or for staging, prognosis and diagnosis, as in testicular, or used to measure response to treatment or detect recurrences. Not all cancers have associated markers. Some markers are useful for many tumor types.
Dr. Lauren Stegman
Radiation Oncology 27 years experience
No: There are three different tumor markers that can be elevated in different types of testicular cancer: beta hcg, afp, and ldh. They can be elevated even when the cancer is only in the testicle and hasn't spread anywhere else in the body. On the other hand, it is also possible to have metastases without elevated markers because some types often don't make any marker at all (eg pure seminoma).

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Last updated Jan 14, 2016

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