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Am Fam Physician. 2003 Sep 15;68(6):1075-82.

Serum tumor markers.

Author information

1
Ventura County Medical Center, Ventura, California, USA. gperkins@mcfarlandclinic.com

Abstract

Monoclonal antibodies are used to detect serum antigens associated with specific malignancies. These tumor markers are most useful for monitoring response to therapy and detecting early relapse. With the exception of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), tumor markers do not have sufficient sensitivity or specificity for use in screening. Cancer antigen (CA) 27.29 most frequently is used to follow response to therapy in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Carcinoembryonic antigen is used to detect relapse of colorectal cancer, and CA 19-9 may be helpful in establishing the nature of pancreatic masses. CA 125 is useful for evaluating pelvic masses in postmenopausal women, monitoring response to therapy in women with ovarian cancer, and detecting recurrence of this malignancy. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a marker for hepatocellular carcinoma, sometimes is used to screen highly selected populations and to assess hepatic masses in patients at particular risk for developing hepatic malignancy. Testing for the beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-hCG) is an integral part of the diagnosis and management of gestational trophoblastic disease. Combined AFP and beta-hCG testing is an essential adjunct in the evaluation and treatment of nonseminomatous germ cell tumors, and in monitoring the response to therapy. AFP and beta-hCG also may be useful in evaluating potential origins of poorly differentiated metastatic cancer. PSA is used to screen for prostate cancer, detect recurrence of the malignancy, and evaluate specific syndromes of adenocarcinoma of unknown primary.

PMID:
14524394
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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