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Reference Guide
Tumor Markers

Tumor Markers

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Tumor marker tests can be used proactively by assessing for cancer in patients at an increased risk for the disease. They can be used as a factor in the initial diagnosis, and also to guide treatment and monitor effectiveness. Tumor marker testing can provide information to help predict recovery and monitor for recurrence of cancer. Unfortunately, tumor marker testing is not incontrovertible. Sometimes individuals without cancer or have a certain non-cancerous condition may incur a high tumor marker level. Some tumor markers only rise when the cancer worsens, and so, is not useful in detecting illness early. There are also some cancers that do not produce tumor markers.

According to CDC data, there were 1,752,735 new cases of cancer reported with 599,589 people dying of cancer in 2019. Based on these numbers, there were 439 new cases of cancer and 146 deaths from cancer per every 100,000 people. From the National Institute of Health projections, approximately 2.0 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2023, with 609,820 people dying from cancer.

Testing for tumor markers examines specific body samples for the presence of certain proteins and substances that may indicate the presence of cancerous cells.Tumor markers are proteins or substances noted to be produced by cancer cells or by normal cells in response to cancer. They can be found in samples of blood, urine, stool, tumors, tissues, or other body fluids of patients who have or might have cancer. Additional testing, diagnostics, and biopsies are necessary to confirm a cancer diagnosis.

What do Tumor Markers Tests measure?

Tumor markers testing most often use blood samples to determine the presence and level of specific substances that are linked to certain cancers.Additional testing of body tissue and body fluids are performed as needed depending on the results.

Various blood testing panels for different cancers are available through Rupa Health. Some examples from this focus include:

  • Access Medical Labs' CA 125: A sample of blood is analyzed for CA 125 which is often elevated with ovarian cancer.
  • Access Medical Labs' CEA: A blood sample is assessed for carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) which is often increased with breast, colon, lung, pancreas, rectal and stomach cancers.
  • Access Medical Labs' CA 19-9: A sample of patient blood is analyzed for CA 19-9 levels to monitor colorectal, gastrointestinal, liver and pancreatic cancers.

Tumor markers testing is one factor in the diagnosis. A physical examination, health and family history, symptom list, and additional blood tests, diagnostics and possible biopsies are necessary for a definitive diagnosis of cancer.

Treatment Plans

Lifestyle and nutrition practices are important for health and wellness, and can be beneficial in preventing some cancers or reducing the risk of a cancer diagnosis, and supporting patients through cancer treatment. 

Treatment for cancer will be dependent on the type of cancer and how far it has spread. Treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplant.

Complementary treatment plans, in addition to the conventional medicine approach, to reduce risk, recurrence, and during treatment of cancer can include:

  • Diets to include low-inflammatory foods (like salmon), fruits, vegetables, grains, high fibers, and eliminate sugars, processed foods, alcohol
  • Monitor for, and eliminate, food and environmental sensitivities and toxins
  • Establish and maintain gut health with probiotics, curcumin, resveratrol
  • Exercise
  • Adequate sleep
  • Decrease stress
  • Group support and counseling
  • Hygiene practices to prevent infections
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