What Are Tumor Markers?

Q:
What are tumor markers?

A:
Tumor markers are substances produced by the body in responses to cancer growth. Most tumor markers are proteins. They may be detected in blood, urine, or tissue samples.

Quite a few tumor markers are now in clinical use. They are combined with other tests to help detect and diagnose some types of cancer. Some of them are linked with only one type of cancer, while others are associated with two or more cancer types.

Some of the tumor markers currently used are as follows.

ALK gene rearrangements and overexpression

  • Cancer types: Non-small cell lung cancer and anaplastic large cell lymphoma
  • Tissue analyzed: tumor

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)

  • Cancer types: Liver cancer and germ cell tumors
  • Tissue analyzed: Blood

Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (Beta-hCG)

  • Cancer types: Choriocarcinoma and germ cell tumors
  • Tissue analyzed: Urine or blood

Beta-2-microglobulin (B2M)

  • Cancer types: Multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and some lymphomas
  • Tissue analyzed: Blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid

Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (Beta-hCG)

  • Cancer types: Choriocarcinoma and germ cell tumors
  • Tissue analyzed: Urine or blood

For more information, you may visit https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/diagnosis-staging/diagnosis/tumor-markers-fact-sheet.

Keywords: tumor marker

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