Tumour markers

Some testicular cancers produce chemicals known as tumour markers. These are released into the blood and can be measured by simple blood tests. 

Not all men with testicular cancer have raised markers. Most non-seminomas and some seminomas produce tumour markers. 

If the cancer produces markers, you’ll become used to having these measured. There are three main tumour markers:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) - often  raised in non-seminomas.
  • Human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG) – often  raised in non-seminomas and sometimes in seminomas.
  • Lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) – can be raised in both  seminomas and non-seminomas.

Tumour markers can be used to: 

  • diagnose testicular cancer
  • find out if it has spread
  • monitor you after surgery
  • watch how you’re responding to treatment
  • check that the cancer hasn’t come back.

Tumour markers are measured before and usually a week after your operation. How quickly tumour markers fall gives doctors information about the risk of the cancer coming back. This helps them plan your treatment.

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