A biomarker is any cellular, molecular, chemical or physical change that can be measured and used to study a normal or abnormal process in the body. A change in the normal amount of a biomarker can help to check the risk for, presence of or progress of a disease or the effects of treatment.
A tumour marker, like a biomarker, is a naturally occurring substance in the body. An increased amount of a tumour marker can indicate the presence of a cancer. Some tumour markers are specific to one type of cancer, while others are related to several different types of cancer. Tumour markers may also increase with non-cancerous conditions.
A tumour marker can be made by cancer cells or by the body in response to cancer. Tumour markers are usually found in the blood or urine, but they can also be found in tumours and other tissue.
There are many different types of tumour markers, including:
Tumour markers can provide information that can be used to help:
A tumour marker test is done:
A tumour marker test is usually done in a private laboratory or hospital laboratory. No special preparation is usually needed.
A tumour marker test alone is not enough to screen for or diagnose cancer. Tumour marker levels may or may not increase when cancer is present. It is also normal for people to have low but detectable levels of tumour markers. Interpretation of tumour marker test results should be combined with:
In monitoring treatment, results of tumour marker tests may be compared to test results before treatment started:
The doctor will decide if further tests, procedures, follow-up care or additional treatment are needed.
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