CEA is a tumour marker that is detected through a blood test. CEA is a type of protein that is typically found in the tissues of the uterus (womb) during pregnancy. A higher level of CEA in the body than what is considered to be normal, or outside of pregnancy, is likely indicative of cancer. CEA can be a sign of conditions such as prostate cancer, lung cancer and reproductive system cancer such as ovarian cancer.
CA19-9 is a tumour marker that is detected through a blood test. CA19-9 is typically indicative of non-cancerous conditions including liver cirrhosis (liver disease) and gallstones. However, a high level of CA19-9 in the blood is considered abnormal and can help detect conditions such as pancreatic cancer and colon cancer in your body.
CA125 is a tumour marker that is detected through a blood test. It is a type of antigen (cells that trigger an immune response) that is found in abnormal levels for those who may have ovarian cancer. This test is recommended for women with a history of ovarian cancer in their family. Benign conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids can also cause elevated levels of CA125.
AFP is a tumour marker that is detected through a blood test. It is typically found in the brain’s pineal gland (part of the brain that regulates hormones). Patients at risk of liver cancer will find high levels of the protein AFP in their blood. Other conditions that may cause elevated AFP levels in the blood are liver cirrhosis and tumours in the testicles and ovaries.
PSA is a tumour marker that is detected through a blood test. It is a type of substance produced in the prostate and PSA levels may be higher than normal in men who have prostate cancer. A PSA tumour marker screening test is often followed by a biopsy test should prostate cancer be suspected.
Cancer marker screenings are recommended at least once a year to ensure that cancer is detected early. Many cancers are not only curable but also preventable. Otherwise, cancer screenings are usually done when a patient experiences abnormal symptoms such as chronic pain that does not go away with other treatments.
A cancer marker screening helps your doctor know if you have cancer and to develop the right treatment plan for your condition. You should also let your doctor know about any history of cancer that is present in your family so as to evaluate your level of risk.
Some conditions that require a cancer marker screening include:
Patients are also advised to avoid smoking before undergoing a tumour marker screening. This is because it is likely to raise levels of substances in your body such as CEA, causing your results to be inaccurate.