The idea of visiting an oncologist for a cancer screening test is often intimidating because the finding of the disease may significantly change a person’s life. However, like any other disease, tackling the problem before its onset always offers a higher chance of successful treatment. Learn four reasons you will need a tumor marker blood test.
Find Out Why You Will Need to Undergo a Tumor Marker Blood Test
What Is a Tumor Marker Blood Test?
A tumor marker blood test is a diagnostic test that looks for tumor markers in the blood. Tumor markers are substances released in abnormally high amounts, primarily by cancer cells in response to cancer in the body. A tumor marker blood test, along with urine and biopsy tests, is essential in cancer management since it provides information about the disease, such as the outcome, recurrence rate, or the risk of having cancer in individuals with a family history.
However, since some tumor markers are not specific and do not accurately indicate whether the patient has cancer, a tumor marker blood test alone is insufficient to diagnose cancer. Doctors may combine this test with other imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to precisely conclude the presence or absence of cancer.
The type of tumor marker blood test you get depends on your medical history and symptoms. Please refer to the previous article about tumor marker types to learn more about these markers and what kind of cancer these markers indicate.
When Is a Tumor Marker Blood Test Needed?
You may need to undergo a tumor marker blood test when:
- Having a high risk of cancer due to a family history
- Currently undergoing cancer treatment
- Having finished cancer treatment
What Happens During a Tumor Marker Blood Test?
A blood test is the most common test to look for a tumor marker. It helps identify cancer since specific tumor cells may release genetic materials into the blood, allowing their DNA to be detected. By collecting and isolating tumor DNA from the blood sample, doctors can determine the presence of a tumor in the patient.
During a blood test, a health care professional will use a small needle to draw a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm. The blood sample collected in a test tube or vial will then undergo analysis in the laboratory. The blood specimen collection procedure may take less than five minutes, although the test results may take longer to return.
4 Reasons a Tumor Marker Blood Test Is Required
Although a tumor marker blood test alone cannot conclude whether a person has cancer, it is beneficial for planning treatment. Since this test determines the level of tumor markers and the current cancer stage, doctors can utilize the information to map out the most appropriate treatment.
During cancer treatment, detecting the changes in tumor marker levels helps doctors predict the outcome of the disease. The treatment is working if a tumor marker blood test finds out that the tumor marker levels are going down. Cancer outcome prediction also helps doctors adjust the treatment options to the current cancer stage.
The chance of cancer recurrence may exist even after successful treatment. If a tumor marker level that once decreased is going up again, it usually means that cancer is recurring. A high tumor marker level also indicates that cancer has spread to other tissues.
Having close family members who have cancer is another reason doctors require a tumor marker blood test. Please remember that although having a relative with cancer may increase the risk of predisposition, it does not mean that you will have cancer. A tumor marker blood test allows you to reduce that risk by early intervention.
Despite the negative thoughts associated with cancer, many examples of this disease can be treated if detected early enough to allow for intervention. The optimal approach to early detection is identifying the tumor markers via tumor marker blood tests.
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