Tumour Markers

What are Tumor Markers?
Found mostly in the form of proteins, Tumor Makers are substances produced by the body in response to cancer growth. Tumour Markers vary in that they can be specific to one type of cancer or to several types of cancer.

Diagnostic Value:
Tumour Markers alone are not sufficient for the diagnosis of cancer, Tumor Markers form part of the diagnostic path to determining the presence, type and status of cancer. Tumour Markers are also useful in evaluating the success of different treatment as well as patient remission.

All people have some level of Tumor Markers in their bodies. Hence, Tumor Markers are not always efficient at detecting cancers at their earliest stages. Furthermore, some cancer types do not produce Tumor markers at all, while certain other diseases or biological changes within the body can cause an elevation in specific Tumor Markers. (See table below)

Summary Chart of Tumor Marker

Tumor Marker Primary Cancer Site False Positive & Other Diseases
Tumor Marker Primary Cancer Site False Positive & Other Diseases
Antidiureic Hormone (ADH) Small cell lung cancer, Adenocarcinoma, Spinal Tumors Central nervous system or lung infections porphyria, SIADH
Alpha-Feto Protein (AFP) Germ cell (Ovaries and testes), liver cancers and malignant Teratomas Pregnancy, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Bladder Tumour Marker (NMP22) Bladder cancer Interstitial cystitis, urinary tract infections. After rigorous exercise, catheterization.
CA 15-3 Breast cancer Benign breast or ovarian disease, endimetriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease & hepatitis
CA 19-9 Pancreas and colorectal cancer Pancreatitis, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease
CA 125 Ovarian cancer Cancer of endometrium, fallopian tubes, lungs, breast and gastrointestinal tract. Endomietriosis, diseases of the ovary, and pregnancy, inflammatory condition in the abdominal area.
Calcitonin Thyroid Medullary carcinoma Lung cancer
Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA) Colon, rectum, pancrease, stomach, breast and lung. Smoking, inflammatory bowel disease. Pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, and some benign tumours in the same organs in which an elevated CEA indicates cancer. Certain types of thyroid and ovarian cancer.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) Trophoblastic Disease, germ cell tumours. Pregnancy, benign breast, lung, pancrease, ovary or GI cancers, duodenal ulcers and cirrhosis.
Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) Lymphoma, acute leukemia, metastic carcinoma Myocardial infraction, hemolysis, meningitis, hepatitis, encephalitis, acute pancreatitis, HIV and lung disease.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) Prostate Benign prostatic hyperplasia(BPH), hypertrophy and prostatitis.