Blood Test for Cancer
Blood tests for cancer also known as Biological Markers and Tumour Markers, are by themselves, not adequate to make a diagnosis of cancer many of the well-known markers are seen in non-cancerous conditions as well. Blood Test results need to be interpreted by qualified medical staff in combination with further investigations and NOT in isolation.
Tumour Markers Tumour markers are biological substances, usually proteins which are found in higher than normal amounts in the blood. These markers which are looked for in the blood test are produced by the tumour itself or by the body’s response to the tumour; the tumour can be cancerous or non-cancerous.
AMAS – Anti Malignin antibody in serum – This is a test which was discovered in the early 90’s by two American doctors. In 2000 an American study showed that compared to other blood tests for tumour markers the AMAS test although not entirely reliable seemed to detect more cancers. This test is not used routinely in the UK as it is still early days in the research department. The test I believe can be purchased privately via internet websites personally I would proceed with caution.
AFP – Alpha feto Protein – Raised levels of AFP can indicate liver cancer. Raised AFP levels can also be found in cancers of testis, ovary, pancreas and lung. Normal levels of AFP are below 10ng/ml raised levels indicate disease- however not all liver cancer present with raised levels other tests need to be utilised to enhance diagnosis.
CA 15-3 – Raised levels are found in advanced breast cancer, also in lung, prostate and ovary cancers. This marker is not useful for patients presenting with early stages of breast cancer. It is to be noted that non cancerous conditions i.e. Endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and hepatitis can also cause elevated levels
CA 19-9 - Raised in Colorectal cancer and pancreatic also raised in stomach and bile duct cancers
CA 125 - Raised in ovarian cancer. Increased levels are also found in pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, pancreatitis, and liver disease. Women may have increased CA 125 levels during menstruation and pregnancy. Raised levels are also linked with non-ovarian cancers including cancers of the uterus, cervix, pancreas, liver, colon, breast, lung, or digestive tract. Once the diagnosis has been made this CA125/CA125-ll marker rises or falls depending on the effectiveness of treatment
CA 27-29 - This is raised n breast cancer, but also in a variety of others such as colon stomach, kidney, ovary, uterus, lung and pancreatic cancers. Non ,cancerous conditions such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, non-cancerous breast disease, kidney disease, and liver disease.
CEA – CarcinoEmbryonic Antigen This is measured in the blood plasma. It can be increased in many types of cancer although primarily gastrointestinal and colorectal. It is present and raised in, ovarian, bladder, stomach, kidney, lung, pancreatic, liver, prostate, and breast. Also to note in many none cancerous diseases cirrhosis or peptic disease, colitis or diverticulitis; it can also be elevated in the elderly patients and in those who smoke. It is not useful in the early stages of cancer detection although it can be used as a monitoring device for reoccurrence or metastases. The normal range is <2.5 mcg/L. Mucin tumour markers CA19-9, CA242 used with this test help the team that are caring for you plan your treatment/surgery hCG- Human chorionic gonadotropin - Raised in cancer of the testis or ovary; the tumours found in the ovaries and testes contain embryonal tissue. If a woman is suspected of having either cancer of the uterus – choriocarcinoma or abnormal tissue in the uterus, or molar pregnancy levels of hCG will be raised Her-2/neu - The presence of raised HER-2/neu is associated with a poorer prognosis for breast cancer. It has been demonstrated in ovarian, lung, gastric and endometrial.
LDH- Lactate dehydrogenase - This is an enzyme that is present in body tissue. High levels may indicate a variety of causes including heart attack, a stroke or liver disease. This is a tumour marker of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukaemia, Ewing’s sarcoma and the testicular tumours.
PSA – Prostate Specific Antigen – This is a protein produced by the prostate gland and can be overproduced indicating prostate cancer. PSA is also increased in other circumstances such as infection, benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH which is a swelling of the prostate, cycling, ejaculation or rectal examination. Prostate cancer tends to be slow growing therefore further tests and biopsies will be appropriate. Interpreting the results and treatment will need careful discussions with your health care advisor. Normal range is <4.0ng/ml levels of >10.ng/ml indicate a higher It was reported in Reuters September 09 that two new blood samples are being proposed which use simple blood tests to detect a particular gene called S100A4 – this gene is claimed to be raised in patients suffering from cancer. Ulrike Stein, who presented her findings, stated her tests finds cancers such as colorectal and gastric cancers. Louwagie said the blood lest looks for methylation genes, SYNE1 and FOXE1 which are both known to be linked to the formation of tumours and in high levels in colorectal caner patients. This form of none-invasive detection is an interesting one which will be worth waiting to see future developments.
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