What are tumour markers and what is tumour marker screening?

When you have got cancer, some patients present with tumour markers (which are substances that your body produces) in their blood, urine, stools, in their tissues, or in other bodily fluids.

Tumour markers are used in medical tests/investigations as they can help in the diagnosis of cancer, they can be used to predict a patient’s response to particular kinds of cancer therapy, they can be used to check a patient’s response to their treatment and they can be used to determine whether or not a patient’s cancer has returned.

Tumour markers and their role in cancer care

The tumour markers are mainly used to help detect, manage and to diagnose some kinds of cancer. If you have an increased level of a particular tumour marker, then it might suggest that cancer is present, but it is not actually enough to confirm your cancer diagnosis. To diagnose cancer properly, these tumour marker measurements are backed up by additional cancer tests (e.g. biopsies).

Tumour markers

The tumour markers which are most commonly used in cancer care include CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen), which is for colorectal and breast cancer and AFP (alpha-fetoprotein), which is used for liver cancer and some other types of tumour, with tumour marker Ca125 being used for ovarian cancer, the tumour marker BrCa being used for both breast and ovarian cancer and PSA (prostate-specific antigen) being used for prostate cancer.

How does IPSA Medical measure tumour markers?

Your IPSA Medical physician will take a sample either of your tumour tissue or of one of your bodily fluids. Your IPSA physician then sends this sample to our laboratory where the various tumour-marker screening methods are undertaken; these measure the levels of tumour markers.

Your IPSA Medical tumour marker consultation

Based on what your IPSA Medical physician’s findings are following your examination, your family history being taken and your in-depth clinical history being determined, your IPSA Medical practitioner orders any relevant tumour marker tests. Your tumour marker results can take 48 hours to be returned to the clinic, and your IPSA Medical specialist will then interpret and discuss all of your results personally with you. If abnormalities have been found, your IPSA Medical physician will guide you regarding further investigations and the referral process. Your IPSA Medical physician is available every day to talk you through any concerns/queries regarding your tumour marker results or concerning the outcome of your consultation.

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