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 called tumour markers. Many people with pancreatic cancer have higher levels of the markers CA19-9 (carbohydrate antigen) and CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen). Other conditions can also raise the levels of these markers in the bloodstream, and 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 and how well the treatment is working. It is normal for the levels of these markers to go up and down a bit. Your doctor will look for sharp increases and overall patterns.
Dr Lorraine Chantrill, Head of Department, Medical Oncology, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW; Marion Bamblett, Nurse Unit Manager, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Prof Katherine Clark, Clinical Director of Palliative Care, Northern Sydney Local Health District Cancer and Palliative Care Network, and Conjoint Professor, Northern Clinical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Lynda Dunstone, Consumer; Kate Graham, Accredited Practising Dietitian – Upper GI Dietitian, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Gina Hesselberg, Radiation Oncologist, St George Hospital Cancer Centre, NSW; Dr Marni Nenke, Endocrinologist and Mary Overton Early Career Research Fellow, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; A/Prof Nicholas O’Rourke, Head of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Royal Brisbane Hospital and The University of Queensland, QLD; Rose Rocca, Senior Clinical Dietitian – Upper GI, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Gail Smith, Consumer. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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