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Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A  #06-07,  820 Thomson Road

Raised Digestive Tumour Markers

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What are Digestive Tumour Markers?

Tumour markers, also known as biomarkers, are substances produced by the tumour or by the body in response to the presence of cancer – they can be found in the urine, blood, body tissue, and tumour.

Digestive tumour markers are those associated with gastrointestinal cancers, the third most common type of cancer worldwide. If you have raised digestive tumour marker, it could be a sign of the presence of gastrointestinal cancer.

What are the common causes?

The presence of tumour markers could be caused by the presence of cancer. If your digestive tumour marker are raised and continues to rise, it could be an indication that the tumour has spread or metastasized.

What are the symptoms of Raised Digestive Tumour Markers?

When cancer is in the early stages (e.g., 0-1 stage), there tends to be no symptoms, however, once the cancer reaches stage 3, symptoms may start to appear. Most of the time, it may not have any symptoms particularly if the cancer is in the early stages, or if the tumour is not actually malignant, or if the raised tumour markers were not actually caused by the presence of cancer at all.

For this reason, raised digestive tumour marker are not used as a sole indicator of cancer. A variety of tests will be conducted to find out the cause.

However, if you have raised digestive tumour markers, be aware of the following symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Feeling lethargic, weak, or tired
  • Bloody stools
  • Bloody vomit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling full even when eating very little

Is having Raised Digestive Tumour Markers painful?

It will only be painful if your raised digestive tumour is indicative of gastrointestinal cancer, in that case, you may experience pain or mild discomfort in your abdomen.

Who is at risk of having Raised Digestive Tumour Markers?

While there are criteria that makes someone more at risk of having raised digestive tumour markers, it is a well-known fact that the risk of cancer increases with:

  • Family history of cancer
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Unhealthy lifestyle

How do I find out if I have Raised Digestive Tumour Markers?

Anyone can take a tumour marker test; because tumour markers are present in bodily fluids, there are a number of ways these tests can be conducted, but the most common ways are:

  • Blood test
  • Urine test

What happens if I have Raised Digestive Tumour Markers?

Although having raised digestive tumour markers may signify the presence of cancer or a recurring cancer, a number of other medical issues may also cause your tumour marker levels to rise. Raised digestive tumour markers are not used as stand-alone diagnostic tools; if your tumour markers are raised, your physician will conduct other more thorough tests to ensure the correct diagnosis.

The next course of action depends on why a tumour test was conducted in the first place. Reasons for a tumour marker test include:

  • Help diagnose cancer: It is one of the tests used to confirm the diagnosis of cancer
  • Monitor progress of a cancer: If the tumour marker levels are increasing, it could mean that the tumour is growing or has metastasized. If the tumour marker levels are decreasing, it could mean that the tumour is shrinking.
  • Monitor recurrence of cancer: Helps to monitor if the cancer has returned after being eradicated.
  • Help stage a tumour: The higher the levels of tumour markers, the higher the tumour stage – this helps your physician to decide the best treatment options.
  • Estimate prognosis: Sometimes high tumour marker levels may indicate a poor prognosis

Frequently asked questions

Are tumour marker tests accurate?
Although tumour tests are not perfect, they help give an indication of a possible problem – early detection and intervention will help improve the survivability of cancer.
Can tumour markers be elevated without cancer?
Yes, there are some noncancerous conditions that can cause tumour marker levels to rise. The key is to keep an eye on your tumour marker levels by going for follow-up tests.

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    We treat all types of gastrointestinal conditions and specialise in performing endoscopic procedures such as Advanced Endoscopy, ERCP and EUS
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    820 Thomson Road, #06-07 Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A Singapore 574623

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