Breast cancer tumor markers are substances produced by cancer cells or by your body in response to cancer. Doctors can test you for markers including cancer-antigen CA , CA They can be used to monitor the progression of cancer, evaluate the response to treatment, or discover a recurrence. They also may be able to predict who will have a late recurrence. Still, these tests do have limitations, as not all cancers cause an elevation in marker levels, and when the levels are elevated, it may be due to a different condition. Therefore, tumor marker tests are not used alone to evaluate or plan breast cancer treatment, but they may be helpful alongside other tests such as imaging studies.
Topic: Tumor Markers
What are Breast Cancer Tumor Markers? (with pictures)
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Breast Cancer Tumor Marker Tests
A tumor marker is anything present in or produced by cancer cells or other cells of the body in response to cancer or certain benign noncancerous conditions that provides information about a cancer, such as how aggressive it is, whether it can be treated with a targeted therapy , or whether it is responding to treatment. Tumor markers have traditionally been proteins or other substances that are made by both normal and cancer cells but at higher amounts by cancer cells. Increasingly, however, genomic markers such as tumor gene mutations, patterns of tumor gene expression , and nongenetic changes in tumor DNA, are being used as tumor markers. Many different tumor markers have been characterized and are in clinical use. Some are associated with only one type of cancer, whereas others are associated with multiple different cancer types.
See the Tumor Markers fact sheet for more information. New tumor markers frequently become available and may not be reflected on this list. This list does not include the many tumor markers that are tested by immunophenotyping and immunohistochemistry to help diagnose cancer and to distinguish between different types of cancer. Some tumor markers listed below are targets for targeted therapy in multiple cancers but serve as tumor markers for only a subset of cancers.