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Tumor Markers

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Examples of Tumor Markers

Tumor markers often have more than one purpose and may be associated with more than one type of cancer. This table lists examples of tumor markers found on this web site and their different uses. Click on the tumor marker to go to the test article for more details on a particular marker.

Examples of Tumor Markers

          USES        
tumor marker Associated cancer(s) USUAL SAMPLEscreen help diagnosestagedetermine prognosisguide choice of treatmentmonitor success of treatment and detect recurrencecomments
AFP (Alpha-feto protein)
Certain cancers of the liver, ovaries and testes Blood
X       X Also elevated during pregnancy and acute and chronic hepatitis
ALK gene rearrangements Non-small cell lung cancer, anaplastic large cell lymphoma Tissue         X   Helps determine whether treatment with targeted therapy is appropriate
B-cell immunoglobulin gene rearrangement B-cell lymphoma Bone marrow, tissue, body fluid, blood   X       X Detects characteristic changes (rearrangements) in specific genes in B-cells
B2M (Beta-2 microglobulin) Multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and some lymphomas
Blood, urine, CSF

  X   X Elevated in other conditions, such as kidney disease
BCR-ABL Chronic myleloid leukemia (CML) and BCR-ABL-positive acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) Blood, bone marrow   X       X  
CA 15-3 (Cancer antigen 15-3)
Breast Blood

      X Also elevated in other cancers, including lung, ovarian as well as benign breast conditions, endometriosis, hepatitis; CA 15-3 or CA 27.29 are two different assays for same marker
CA 19-9 (Cancer antigen 19-9)
Pancreatic, sometimes bile ducts, gallbladder, stomach, colon Blood

      X Also elevated in other forms of digestive tract cancer and non-cancer, thyroid disease, pancreatitis, bile duct obstruction, and inflammatory bowel disease
CA-125 (Cancer antigen 125)
Ovarian Blood
X       X Also elevated with other cancers such as endometrial, peritoneal, fallopian tube, and non-cancers such as endometriosis, PID, some other benign diseases and conditions such as uterine fibroids, pregnancy
Calcitonin
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) and C-cell hyperplasia Blood
X       X Also elevated with other cancers, such as lung cancers and leukemias, but not used to detect these
CEA (Carcino-embryonic antigen)
Colorectal as well as pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, medullary thyroid or other cancers Blood

X X   X Elevated in conditions such as RA, hepatitis, COPD, colitis, pancreatitis, and in cigarette smokers
Chromogranin A (CgA) Neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoid tumors, neuroblastoma) Blood   X       X May be most sensitive tumor marker for carcinoid tumors
DCP (Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin) Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) Blood           X New test; often used along with an imaging study plus AFP and/or AFP-L3%
EGFR mutation Non-small cell lung cancer, sometimes head and neck Tissue       X X   Helps determine whether treatment with targeted therapy is appropriate; not available in every laboratory
Estrogen and Progesterone receptors Breast
Tissue  
  X X   Increased in hormone-dependent cancer
Fibrin/Fibrinogen Bladder Urine           X  
Gastrin G-cell hyperplasia, gastrin-producing tumor (gastrinoma) Blood   X       X Also used to help diagnose Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
hCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin, also called Beta-hCG) Testicular and trophoblastic disease, germ cell tumors, choriocarcinoma
Blood, urine   X       X Elevated in pregnancy
HER2/neu Breast, gastric, esophageal Tissue       X X   Cancers that are HER2/neu-positive tend to grow/spread faster than other cancers and are more likely to respond to treatment with drugs that work against the HER2 receptor on cancer cells.
JAK2 mutation Certain types of leumemia Blood, bone marrow   X         Also used to diagnose bone marrow disorders characterized by overproduction of one or more types of blood cells known as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), especially polycythemia vera (PV)
KRAS mutation Colorectal, non-small cell lung cancer Tissue       X X   Helps determine whether treatment with targeted therapy is appropriate
LD (Lactate dehydrogenase) Testicular and other germ cell tumors Blood     X X   X LDH is elevated in a wide variety of conditions and is often used to help identify the cause and location of tissue damage in the body and to monitor its progress; may be used in other cancers, such as lymphoma, melanoma, neuroblastoma.
Monoclonal immunoglobulins Multiple myeloma and Waldenstroms macroglobulinemia Blood, urine
X       X Cloned plasma cell with overproduction of one type of immunoglobulin, usually detected by protein electrophoresis or serum free light chains
PSA (Prostate specific antigen) Prostate Blood X X       X May be used to screen men at high risk due to family history; no consensus on use to screen asymptomatic men; also elevated in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and with increasing age
SMRP (Soluble mesothelin-related peptides) Mesothelioma (rare type of cancer associated with asbestos exposure) Blood  
      X Often used in conjunction with imaging tests
T-cell receptor gene rearrangement T-cell lymphoma Bone marrow, tissue, body fluid, blood   X       X Detects characteristic changes (rearrangements) in specific genes in T-cells
Thyroglobulin Thyroid Blood, tissue

      X Used after thyroid is removed to evaluate treatment
21-gene signature (Oncotype DX®) and 70-gene signature (MammaPrint®) Breast Tissue           X Evaluate risk of recurrence

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