What is the role of cancer-specific tumor markers in the workup of secondary lung tumors?

Updated: Feb 08, 2019
  • Author: Daniel S Schwartz, MD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, AGAF  more...
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Answer

Follow-up of cancer-specific tumor markers in serum is rarely clinically useful for diagnosis or prognosis. Examples of tumors in which serum markers can help to increase the specificity of imaging studies for establishing the diagnosis of pulmonary metastases include the following:

  • Nonseminomatous testicular germ cell tumors - In which the elevated levels of alpha fetoprotein and/or the beta subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin can help to predict tumor recurrence
  • Well-differentiated papillary or follicular thyroid cancer - By identification of elevated thyroglobulin levels
  • Prostate cancer - In which any detectable prostate-specific antigen in the serum after initial treatment suggests persistent disease or recurrence

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