No particular test is available to diagnose all types of cancer, but several the body produces several substances known as tumour markers that may indicate cancer. While cancerous cells produce tumour markers, normal cells also produce these substances. However, cancerous cells usually produce them in higher amounts. Tumour markers are proteins found in the blood, urine, body tissue, and stool of patients with cancer.
After a comprehensive examination and discussing your symptoms with the doctor, they may recommend screening for tumour markers. You don’t need to worry about which tests you need because your doctor will determine this and explain it during your initial consultation.
At Medical Express Clinic, our private blood tests have a same-day turnaround time, and our doctors will explain what your results mean and inform you of the most appropriate next steps for further testing or treatment.
Many different tumour markers are known. Some of these markers are associated with one type of cancer, while others are associated with several cancers.
No specific blood test is available to diagnose or rule out Tumour Markers. For any tumour marker test to solely diagnose cancer, it must have a high sensitivity (ability to identify people with cancer) and high specificity (correctly identify people who do not have cancer). This would mean that getting a positive result means that the chance of having cancer is very high, while a negative result would indicate that the chance of having cancer is low. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all known tumour markers.
Sometimes, the doctor will recommend testing for a tumour marker as part of a diagnostic investigation, but more definitive results will be necessary, such as endoscopy or scans to rule out cancer. Many tumour marker tests are useful after a cancer diagnosis to record the progress of cancer following different treatments.
Doctors usually recommend cancer blood tests to monitor the body’s response to cancer treatment and check for recurrence of cancer if you previously had it. In certain cases, such as pancreatic cancer, a cancer blood test can aid diagnosis.
The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test has the same limitations as other cancer markers. Testing all men can help detect cancer in many older men, but it remains unclear how many of these men need this information as many men usually die of another condition and may not have needed to know about their prostate cancer diagnosis.
Unfortunately, it is still unclear which of the men diagnosed with prostate cancer need treatment and those that don’t. This results in men diagnosed with prostate cancer often having surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, which can cause serious life-long side effects. For some men, these treatments will save their lives, but for many others, harm from treatment may be unnecessary. This issue is complex, but consult your doctor for more details if you are considering a PSA test.
For more information on PSA testing and other cancer blood tests, call Medical Express Clinic on 0207 499 1991. We offer same-day blood test appointments and cancer blood tests to evaluate your health risks and monitor the effectiveness of an ongoing treatment. You can also call us to book an appointment with one of our experienced doctors or visit us for a walk-in appointment.