Cancer Testing: Know Your Risk

Woman giving support to friend diagnosed with cancer
Woman giving support to friend diagnosed with cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S.

Cancer kills over a half a million Americans every year—second only to heart disease. But cancer can be detected through antigens and other biomarkers in your blood. Your family history of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer and even lung cancer can determine whether you’re at risk of developing cancer. Worried about cancer? Get a lab test to detect cancer today.

What do lab tests for cancer look for?

  • Test for cancer biomarkers (hormones, antigens) in your blood
  • Measure antigens for breast cancer, ovarian cancer and more
  • Assess genetic risk factors for cancer via saliva (cheek) swab
  • Assess treatment effectiveness and cancer progression
  • Tumor markers for pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and beyond
  • Blood testing, fecal testing and non-invasive saliva testing

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Lab Testing for Cancer

Whether you’re at risk or have already been diagnosed, cancer antigen, hormone markers and tumor markers are a good way to assess need and monitor treatment for cancer. Genetic cancer testing and fecal (occult blood) testing can assess your risk.

CEA measurement aids in the management of cancer and other conditions

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This test can be useful in aiding the management of cancer treatment because it measures blood levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). CEA levels are elevated when cancer or inflammation are present.

Cancer antigen (CA) 125 is a marker used for monitoring ovarian cancer

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The cancer antigen (CA) 125 test is used to monitor ovarian cancer and some other cancers. Because CA 125 can be elevated in noncancerous conditions, it is not used as a screening test except by women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer.

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If you are living with breast cancer or other diagnoses, this test monitor will monitor the cancer antigen (CA) 15-3, a protein produced by normal and cancerous cells.

Carbohydrate antigen 19-9 monitors the treatment of several cancers

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This test measures the carbohydrate antigen (CA) 19-9, a tumor marker whose levels are used to monitor cancer of the pancreas, as well as other cancers and conditions.

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If you are a breast cancer patient, testing cancer antigen (CA) 27.29 will help your health practitioner monitor metastatic carcinoma of the breast, the course of disease and how you're responding to therapy; there is a direct correlation between the changing levels of CA 27.29 and clinical status.

This test is used as a tumor marker for certain cancers.

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Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that is produced by certain types of cancer tumors. This test is used to evaluate men with testicular tumors. It can also be used to help diagnose gestational trophoblastic disease.

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) testing is used to monitor testicular cancer

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Testing for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels in men can help monitor the growth of testicular cancer.

Measures albumin and globulin protein fractions in blood serum

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The primary use of this test is to evaluate for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. The test measures specific proteins of the blood, analyzing fractions of blood serum’s two major protein groups, albumin and globulin.

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Chromogranin A (CGA) is a protein found in and released from neuroendocrine cells. This test is used as a tumor marker and may be ordered in combination with or in place of serotonin to help aid in the diagnosis of carcinoid syndrome.

Human epididymis protein 4 (HE4) test is used to monitor ovarian cancer

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Human epididymis protein 4 (HE4) is produced by the majority of epithelial ovarian cancer cells and is used as a tumor biomarker in ovarian cancer patients. HE4 can also be elevated in other cancerous and noncancerous conditions.

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If you have been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer or other types of tumors, your health care provider may want to use this test to monitor your neuron-specific enolase (NSE), an isoenzyme that has been detected in people with these cancers.

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