Tumor markers

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Tumor markers are proteins , peptides or other biological substances in the blood that are found in tissue or other body fluids . Their increased concentration can indicate a tumor or a recurrence of a tumor. Owing to their often low specificity , most tumor markers are less suitable for screening than for monitoring the progression of cancer. Tumor markers are among the biomarkers .

Examples of individual representatives

Some tumor markers are better known by their abbreviations than by their full names.

abbreviation Surname Tumor disease
AFP Alpha-1 fetoprotein Hepatocellular carcinoma and gonadal and extragonadal germ cell tumors
- Bence Jones protein
(immunoglobulin light chain)
Multiple myeloma
β-hCG Human chorionic gonadotropin , β subunit Germ cell tumors of the ovary and non-seminomatous tumors of the testicle
β2MG β 2 -microglobulin Malignant lymphomas
CA 15-3
(= MUC-1)
Mucin-1 (Cancer Antigen 15-3) Breast cancer (breast cancer) or ovarian cancer ( ovarian cancer )
CA 19-9 Cancer antigen 19-9 gastrointestinal malignancies, especially in pancreatic cancer (pancreatic cancer)
APPROX. 50 Cancer antigen 50 Gastrointestinal tract tumors
CA 72-4 Cancer antigen 72-4 Gastric cancer as well as mucinous ovarian cancer
CA 125 Cancer antigen 125 Ovarian cancer ( ovarian cancer )
HE4 Human epididymal protein 4 Ovarian cancer ( ovarian cancer )
- Calcitonin medullary thyroid carcinoma
CEA Carcino embryonic antigen Colon cancer , pancreatic cancer and adenocarcinoma of the lungs
- Chromogranin neuroendocrine tumors
CYFRA 21-1 Cytokeratin 19 fragment Squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs ( bronchial carcinoma )
HVS Homovanillic acid Neuroblastoma
5-HIES 5-hydroxyindolylacetic acid Carcinoid
VMS Vanillin-mandelic acid Pheochromocytoma
LDH Lactate dehydrogenase a general marker for rapidly growing tumors
- Metanephrine Pheochromocytoma
NSE Neuron-specific enolase small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC), neuroblastoma and seminomatous germ cell tumors
PLAP Placental alkaline phosphatase seminomatous germ cell tumors
PPE Prostate-specific antigen Prostate cancer (prostate cancer)
PSMA Prostate-specific membrane antigen Prostate cancer
(= M2-PK)
Pyruvate kinase M2 Breast cancer , renal cell carcinoma , bronchial carcinoma , colorectal carcinoma , pancreatic carcinoma , ovarian carcinoma , prostate carcinoma, gastric carcinoma , esophageal carcinoma , cervical carcinoma
S100 S-100 proteins , β subunit Malignant melanoma
SCC Squamous Cell Carcinoma Antigen Bronchial carcinoma
TG Thyroglobulin papillary or follicular thyroid cancer
TK Thymidine kinase Leukemia , Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma , Multiple Myeloma
TPA Tissue Polypeptide Antigen Ovarian carcinoma , prostate carcinoma , bladder carcinoma
- Tryptase Systemic mastocytosis

Endocrine-active tumors

In endocrine-disrupting tumors, i.e. tumors that produce hormones such as insulinoma , carcinoid , VIPoma , glucagonoma , gastrinoma , prolactinoma , pheochromocytoma, etc., the corresponding hormones or their breakdown products can be used as tumor markers, provided they do not have a too short half-life.


  1. http://www.krebsinformationsdienst.de/untersprüfung/tumormarker.php krebsinformationsdienst.de of the German Cancer Research Center
  2. a b c d e (AFP) in Page 746 in: Manual of Clinical Oncology, Lippincott Manual Series; Dennis Albert Casciato, Mary C. Territo editor Dennis Albert Casciato, Mary C. Territo; Contributor Mary C. Territo; Edition 6, illustrated; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7817-6884-9

See also