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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 66-73

Tumor markers in diagnosis and management of cancers: A review of literature

1 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu, Nigeria
2 Department of Radiation Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Campus, Enugu, Nigeria
3 Department of Haematology & Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
S C Nwokediuko
Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Enugu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Background/Objective: Cancers remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality globally. Tumor markers provide a minimally invasive, cost-effective source of data valuable for monitoring disease course, determining prognosis and aiding in treatment planning. This review examines the extent to which some of the common tumor markers in clinical use have met these needs. Method: Publications from local and international journals on tumor markers were accessed by means of a MEDLINE search using PubMed. References from key journal articles were also accessed and critically reviewed. Results: The number of tumor markers in clinical use continues to increase. Their potential applications include screening in asymptomatic individuals, confirming a suspected disease, assisting in tumor classification and staging, estimating prognosis, monitoring treatment response, surveillance for residual disease, and early detection of recurrent disease. To date, only prostate specific antigen in conjunction with digital rectal examination has proved effective in screening asymptomatic individuals for prostatic cancer. Conclusion: Tumor markers are important adjuncts in the diagnosis and management of malignant diseases but several factors influence the clinical utility of any potential tumor marker.

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