What is a tumor marker?

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

Tumor markers for follow-up in cancer therapy

In this sense, the detection of a tumor marker is only one among several when it comes to finding a tumor. Frequently, the concentration of tumor markers indicates the origin and growth of the tumor. In addition, the substances can also give an indication of which organ is affected. However, tumor markers play a very special role in the monitoring of cancer therapy: during chemotherapy, surgery or radiation, for example, the concentration of a specific tumor marker is controlled. With its help, the success of the therapy can be read off or a revival or metastasis can be detected.

Overview: Tumor marker in cancer

For some cancers there are tumor markers, which are listed in the following overview:

  • CEA (especially for colon cancer)
  • NSE
  • CA 125 (especially for ovarian cancer)
  • AFP (especially for liver cell cancer)
  • CA 19-9 (especially for stomach 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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