Tumor markers are biomarkers that are found in blood, urine and body tissues. Although an elevated level of a tumor marker may suggest the presence of cancer, this alone is not enough to diagnose cancer. Sometimes, noncancerous conditions can cause the levels of certain tumor markers to increase. Therefore, measurements of tumor markers are usually combined with other tests or investigations.
Commonly measured tumor markers in clinical laboratories include:
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) for liver cancer CA-125 for ovarian cancer
- CA 19-9 for pancreatic and gastrointestinal cancers
- Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) for colon and rectal cancers
- Cancer antigen (CA) 15-3, a marker for breast cancer
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