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Tumor markers

Tumor markers are substances that are produced by cancer, or other cells of the body, in response to cancer or certain benign (noncancerous) conditions. Most tumor markers are made by normal cells as well as by cancer cells, however they are produced at much higher levels in cancerous conditions.

Tumor markers can be used to help in the diagnosis and management of some types of cancer. Elevated levels of the tumor marker is not indicative of cancer and is usually combined with other tests, such as biopsies to help further diagnose the cancer.

Some tumor marker levels may be taken before treatment as the levels of tumor marker present can reflect the extent of the disease and allows the doctor to plan the appropriate therapy.

The levels of marker present can also be measured during treatment as an indicator to how the patient is responding to the treatment. A decrease would mean that the treatment is being effective, whereas no change or a rise in levels would indicate that the cancer is not responding.

There are over 20 different tumor markers that are in clinical use and many are only associated with only one type of cancer. Unfortunately there is no “universal” marker that is able to identify all types of cancer.

Are you developing an assay to detect or diagnose a cancer?

BBI can help.

We offer a diverse range of markers that are ideal for numerous applications including life science research, immunodiagnostic platform assays, ELISA’s, lateral flow, and quality assurance control manufacture.

See the table below for details on our flagship tumor marker products.


Associated Cancer

Tissue Source

Function in disease.

Alpha-fetoprotein Liver cancer and germ cell tumors A protein normally produced by a fetus To help determine treatment and prognosis as levels are usually non detectable in men or women and therefore elevated levels would suggest the presence of a primary liver cancer or germ cell tumor.
Beta-2-microglobulin Multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and some lymphomas Found on the surface of many cells, including lymphocytes, and in small amounts in the blood and urine Helps the prognosis and response to treatment. Elevated levels are indicative of some types of cancer such as multiple myeloma or lymphoma.
CA15-3 Breast cancer Is a protein that is shed by the tumor cells in breast cancer. Measuring the levels of this protein allows the physician to monitor the patient’s response to treatment.
CA125 Ovarian cancer a protein that is present on the surface of most, but not all, ovarian cancer cells CA125 is primarily used to monitor therapy during treatment for ovarian cancer. CA125 is also used to detect whether cancer has come back after treatment is complete. A series of CA125 tests that shows rising or falling concentrations is often more useful than a single result. Elevated levels have been found in about 80% of women with ovarian cancer.
CA19-9 Pancreatic cancer CA 19-9 antigens are the substances released by pancreatic tumor cells Can be used as a prognostic indicator in response to treatment. Raised levels can be used to assess the efficiency of treatment.
Carcinoembryonic antigen Colorectal cancer and breast cancer Produced by cancerous cells To assess if colorectal cancer has spread, also used for breast cancer recurrence and assess response to treatment.Smokers also have high levels of CEA.
Prostate-specific antigen Prostate cancer A protein made by the prostate gland and found in the blood. Higher than normal levels of are found in men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia or an inflammation of the prostate gland.
Thyroglobulin Thyroid cancer It is the form that thyroid hormone takes when stored in the thyroid If thyroid is damaged then elevated levels will be seen in the blood.Measurement of the level in blood can be used to detect thyroid cancer cells that remain in the body after treatment.

Find out more about our range of tumor markers, visit the BBI store >>

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