Cancer – Tumour Marker


Cancer is a multifaceted and life-threatening illness that impacts millions of individuals globally. It happens when the body’s aberrant cells proliferate and expand out of control. Frequently, this results in tumours that can infiltrate surrounding tissues and spread to other areas of the body. Any region of the body can acquire cancer, and it can impact people of various ages, genders, and races. Despite its tough opponent, many cancer kinds now have better outcomes and higher survival rates thanks to advancements in research and treatment. For effective treatment outcomes, early detection and precise diagnosis are still essential.


  1. Unexplained Weight Loss: Remarkable weight loss without dietary or exercise modifications.
  2. Persistent Fatigue: Excessive weariness that doesn’t go away whether you rest or sleep.
  3. Unusual Bleeding or Discharge: Any unusual bleeding or discharge, including nipple discharge, irregular vaginal bleeding, blood in the stool or urine, or blood coming up when coughing.
  4. Skin Changes: Notable skin alterations include newly formed moles or growths, modifications to the size, form, or colour of preexisting moles, and non-healing wounds.
  5. Persistent Pain: Pain, such as headaches, backaches, bone pain, or stomach aches, that is unavoidable and does not go away with standard therapies.
  6. Changes in Bladder or Bowel Habits:  Significant alterations in the habits of the bladder or bowel, such as frequent urination without a clear reason, prolonged constipation, diarrhoea, or blood in the pee or stool.
  7. Persistent Indigestion or Difficulty Swallowing: This refers to heartburn that occurs frequently and doesn’t go away with over-the-counter medicine or lifestyle modifications.


Tumour markers are substances that either normal cells or cancer cells release in response to one another. They are present in blood, urine, and tissue samples, and their detection and monitoring can aid in the identification, diagnosis, and treatment of specific cancer types.


There are many uses for tumour markers in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Here are a few instances:

  • Screening: In individuals who are at high risk for developing a particular type of cancer but do not yet exhibit any symptoms, tumour markers can be used as a screening technique to identify cancer. For instance, women who have a family history of breast cancer might undergo routine blood work to look for increased CA 15-3 tumour marker levels.
  • Diagnosis: By verifying the existence of cancer cells, tumour markers can assist in the diagnosis of cancer. For instance, increased prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a tumour marker, levels in a man’s blood may be a sign of prostate cancer.
  • Monitoring: The advancement of cancer and the efficacy of treatment can be tracked with tumour markers. For instance, following colon cancer surgery, a patient’s blood level of the tumour marker CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) may drop, suggesting that the cancer has been effectively removed.
  • Recurrence: Following therapy, tumour markers can be utilized to identify cancer recurrences. For instance, following ovarian cancer therapy, elevated levels of the tumour marker CA 125 (cancer antigen 125) in a woman’s blood may be a sign that cancer has returned.


There are several types of tumour markers which include:

  1. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA):

CEA is a protein that is generally synthesized throughout foetal development, however, it stops being made after delivery. However, an elevation in blood CEA levels may result from specific cancer types.

  • Cancer associated with Carcinoembryonic Antigen Test:

Elevated CAE level could be a sign of malignancy. CAE levels are most commonly associated with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Colorectal
  • Pancreatic
  • Lungs
  • Breast
  • Ovarian
  • Gastric
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA):

PSA  is a protein that the male reproductive system’s prostate gland produces. PSA levels in the blood are typically extremely low, but they can rise in men who have prostate cancer or other disorders affecting the prostate.

  • Cancer associated with Prostate-specific antigen:

   PSA testing is frequently employed for the purpose of prostate cancer screening. A further diagnostic test, like a biopsy, is required to confirm the diagnosis of prostate cancer, even though higher PSA levels may indicate the condition.

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP):

Alpha-fetoprotein is a protein that a developing fetus’s liver and yolk sac regularly manufacture. AFP levels usually start to drop shortly after birth and don’t go up until adulthood. Nevertheless, some malignancies may be indicated by increased AFP levels.

  • Cancer associated with Alpha-fetoprotein:

Elevated AFP levels may indicate cancer and levels are mostly associate with certain type of cancer such as:

  • Testicular
  •  ovarian,
  •  Liver
  •  Lymphomas
  •  germ cell tumours
  • pancreatic
  • Cancer antigen-125 (CA-125):

Cancer antigen-125 is a protein that is often present in women’s blood at extremely low concentrations. However, women with ovarian cancer may have elevated CA-125 values.

  • Cancer associates with Cancer antigen-125:

CA-125levels are most commonly associates with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Endometrial
  • Pancreatic
  • Lung
  • Breast
  • Gastrointestinal Cancers
  • Cancer Antigen 19-9 (CA 19-9):

A protein called Cancer Antigen 19-9 (CA 19-9) is typically produced in very small amounts by the stomach, bile ducts, pancreas, and other organs. On the other hand, individuals with some cancers, especially pancreatic cancer, may have increased CA 19-9 levels.

  • Cancer associated with Cancer Antigen 19-9

CA 19-9 levels are most commonly associated with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Pancreatic
  • Bile duct
  • Stomach  
  • Gallbladder
  • Colorectal
  • Ovarian
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG):

During pregnancy, the placenta ordinarily produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. It can, however, also be produced by specific cancer types.

  • Cancer associated with Human chorionic gonadotropin:

HCG levels are most commonly associated with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Testicular
  • Ovarian
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)
  • Neuron-specific enolase (NSE):

An enzyme called neuron-specific enolase (NSE) is normally present in high concentrations in neurons and neuroendocrine cells. In addition to being essential to the glycolytic process, which turns glucose into energy, injured neurons can leak NSE into the blood. Because of this, NSE is a useful biomarker for a number of cancers and neurological conditions.

  • Cancer associated with Neuron-specific enolase:

NSE levels are most commonly associated with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Carcinoid tumours
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours
  • Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas:
  • S-100 protein:

Tumour markers like S-100 protein are frequently linked to specific malignancies, especially those that originate from melanocytes or neural crest cells.

  • Cancer associates with S-100 protein:

S-100 protein levels are most commonly associates with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Melanoma
  • Glioblastoma
  • Breast Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes:

Human genes BRCA2 and BRCA1 generate proteins that aid in slowing the growth of tumours. These genes can have mutations that raise the risk of getting some cancers, especially ovarian and breast cancer.

  • Cancer associates with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes:

BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes levels are most commonly associates with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Ovarian
  •  breast cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Melanoma

10.Cancer antigen 15-3 (CA 15-3):

Proteins called cancer antigen 15-3 (CA-15-3) are produced by some types of cancer cells, most frequently breast cancer cells. Some non-cancerous cells also make it, but considerably less frequently.

  • Cancer associates with Cancer antigen 15-3:

Cancer antigen 15-3 levels are most commonly associates with certain types of cancer such as:

  • Breast
  • Lung
  •  Ovarian
  • Pancreatic
  • Liver


Tumor markers may give important information for managing and diagnosing cancer, helping medical practitioners monitor a patient’s status, evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment, and identify cancer recurrence. Tumour markers are best used when combined with other diagnostic tests and clinical examination; nonetheless, they are not absolute diagnostic tools and can also be increased in non-cancerous illnesses. Tumour indicators are predicted to be used in new ways as research into cancer continues, offering novel views on the detection and treatment of disease.