Tumor Markers : All you need to know

Tumor Markers, all you need to know

What are Tumor Markers?

Tumor markers are substances produced and detected in blood that may indicate the presence of cancer. 

Why are Tumor Markers used?

Some tumor markers may be useful in detecting cancer in high-risk individuals such as AFP for patients who have Hepatitis B or Cirrhosis, or CA125 for those with a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer.

Sometimes tumor markers are used to detect recurrence of cancer, for example, colorectal cancer with a previously raised CEA.

How are tumor markers tests done?

The tests can be done using three different methods; a blood test, a urine test or biopsy (taking a sample tissue for examination). The tumor marker tests might need to be repeated as tumor marker levels can change over time.

What are the different tumor marker tests available?

These are the common tumor markers test available:

tumor markers 

What should I do if the levels of tumor markers are raised?

If the levels of tumor markers are raised, please consult a doctor. Tumor markers may not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer, some benign conditions can also result in raised tumor markers. 

You may require further investigations such as imaging, and biopsies to confirm the presence of cancer.

There are instances where the tests can give a “false positive”, which means that the results suggest a person has cancer when they don’t. The opposite can happen as well, where the person might have cancer but the tests do not show. Other diagnostic tests are usually done alongside tumor markers tests to more accurately diagnose cancer.

Are there any other tests for cancer screening?

There are also other forms of cancer screening, they are namely:

  • Mammogram – Screen for Breast Cancer, suitable for females above 50years old
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test – Test for Colorectal Cancer, suitable for adults above 50 years old
  • Pap Smear – Test for Cervical Cancer, suitable for females who are sexually active above the age of 25

To understand if you require any tumor marker tests, it is important that you speak to a doctor to see if the tests are suitable for you.

Here at Minmed, we have 6 comprehensive health screening packages designed for different needs.


Dr Jiayi Wong

M.B.B.S (Singapore) Bachelor of Medicine | Bachelor of Surgery

Started as a general practitioner in one of Minmed's clinic, Dr Wong is constantly looking for more challenges and ways to contribute as a medical professional.

Dr Wong now overlooks the medical protocols of the group while leading a team of doctors and nurses at Minmed's COVID-19 vaccination centres, mobile vaccination teams and COVID-19 testing operations.

A father of 3, his jovial nature never fails to cheer up those around him.