Blood tests for pancreatic cancer
You are likely to have blood tests to check your general health and see how well your liver and kidneys are working. Some blood tests look for proteins produced by cancer cells. These proteins are known as tumour markers.
Many people with pancreatic cancer have higher levels of the tumour markers CA 19-9 (carbohydrate antigen) and CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen). Other conditions can also raise the levels of these markers in the bloodstream, while some people with pancreatic cancer have normal levels.
The levels of tumour markers can’t be used to diagnose pancreatic cancer on their own, but they may tell your doctor more about the cancer or how well the treatment is working.
It is normal for the levels of these tumour markers to go up and down a little. Your doctor will look for sharp increases and overall patterns.
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Dr Benjamin Loveday, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) Surgeon, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Katherine Allsopp, Palliative Medicine Physician, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital, NSW; Hollie Bevans, Senior Dietitian, Radiotherapy and Oncology, Western Health, VIC; Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Amanda Maxwell, Consumer; Prof Michael Michael, Medical Oncologist, Lower and Upper GI Oncology Service, Co-Chair Neuroendocrine Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and University of Melbourne, VIC; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Meg Rogers, Nurse Consultant Upper GI/NET Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Ady Sipthorpe, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA.
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