There are a number of different methods used to diagnose various types of cancer. Examining the levels of certain tumor markers is one such diagnostic method that may help mesothelioma patients live longer.
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Tumor markers are an oncological method of diagnosing cancer. These markers are most commonly found in body fluids such as blood and urine, and are typically helpful in assisting in diagnosis. While a biopsy is usually the best method to determine the presence of cancer, the possible presence of tumor markers in both malignant and benign tumors can enhance the effectiveness of a biopsy.
In addition to being used for the diagnosis of cancer, tumor markers can also be measured to determine how a patient is responding to treatment. Marker levels will often be measured before treatment begins to determine the correct course of action when addressing the cancer. Tumor marker levels can further be used to determine whether a patient has suffered a recurrence of their cancer.
Tumor markers are most often identified as proteins in the blood, urine or tissue. To identify them, antibodies to various proteins are introduced to the blood, urine or tissue, and any reaction is noted. Abnormal levels of particular proteins can be linked to certain kinds of cancers. There are over a dozen specific markers known to doctors, and continuing research is going into discovering new markers. Using DNA analysis, doctors are learning new gene patterns that can be found in tumor markers.
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