Question

Pancreatic Cancer

Is there a tumor marker for pancreatic cancer?

A Answers (2)

  • AAjay Sahajpal, Oncology, answered on behalf of Aurora Health Care
    Yes, for pancreatic adenocarcinoma a typical tumor marker is CA 19-9 and for neuroendocrine tumors it depends on the subtype of hormone being produced such as insulin or glucagon.
  • We don’t have a good tumor marker for pancreatic cancer. CA 19-9 is the only one that’s out there that has any relevancy, but it can be elevated in cases of chronic pancreatitis and elevated in people with emphysema. It can also be elevated in people who are markedly jaundiced with a gallstone. So, I think it’s an important adjunct to decision-making, but I’ve never not operated on a patient because their CA 19-9 level was not very high.

    Certainly it’s ominous when you see the tumor marker get really high, say over 600, or certainly over 1,000. But it’s just not a reliable enough test right now to predicate decision-making upon that value. I do think it has value in terms of looking at how people respond after their tumor has been destroyed. But I’m not sure it’s a decision-making tool in terms of who you’re going to operate on, like PSA might be in some people with prostate cancer.
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