What is a tumor marker?

Tumor markers are biological substances found in cells, blood or other body fluids, and tumor tissue of cancer patients.  The detection of these substances in the body is therefore a serious indication that cancer is present or progressing. On the other hand, the absence of these does not mean that there is no cancer, because not all types of cancer produce tumor markers.

Tumor markers for monitoring the progress of cancer therapy

Seen in this way, the detection of a tumor marker is only one means among many when it comes to detecting a tumour. The concentration of the tumor markers often allows conclusions to be drawn about the development and growth of the tumour. The substances can also give an indication of which organ is affected. However, tumor markers play a very special role in monitoring cancer therapy: During chemotherapy, surgery or radiation, for example, the concentration of a special tumor marker is monitored. With its help, the success of the therapy can be read or a resuscitation or metastasis can be recognized.

Overview: tumor markers in cancer

There are tumor markers for some types of cancer, which are listed in the following overview:

  • CEA (especially for colon cancer)
  • NSE
  • CA 125 (especially for ovarian cancer)
  • AFP (particularly for  hepatocellular cancer )
  • CA 19-9 (especially for gastric cancer)
  • PSA (especially for prostate cancer)
  • CA 15-3 (especially for  breast cancer )
  • CA 72-4
  • HCG  (especially for choriocarcinoma)
  • SCC


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