Pancreatic Tumor Markers

Pancreatic Tumor Markers

If you suspect you have a pancreatic tumor, you will probably want to know the most common markers. You may be familiar with CA 19-9 or CA 125, but what is p53? Or, maybe you'd prefer to be more specific. There is a test for both of these, and in this article, I'll go over a few of the most important ones. Read on to learn more about each.

CA 19-9

In this article, we will look at the accuracy of CA 19-9 as a tumor marker in the pancreas. The accuracy of this marker was measured using an upper limit of normal of 37 U/ml and a minimum data set of PDAC and pancreatitis. We will examine the ability of this tumor marker to detect the presence of pancreatic cancer and its progression. We will also discuss how this tumor marker helps monitor the prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients.

CA 125

The cancer-related marker CA 125 can be found in the blood of many patients with pancreatic cancer. This non-specific tumor marker can be elevated in patients with a benign pancreatic tumors and those with malignant pancreatic tumors. Patients with elevated CA 125 levels should have a PET/CT scan, CT scan, or MRI to detect recurrent disease. A PET/CT scan can help doctors better plan surgical resection.


Mutant p53 is a key driver of metastasis and tumor growth in pancreatic ductal carcinoma, a type of cancer affecting the pancreas. Scientists have identified mutations in p53 to investigate the role of the protein. Mutant p53 is also implicated in other types of pancreatic cancer growth. Mutant p53 promotes invasiveness of pancreatic tumor cells, increases expression of cell-autonomous PDGF receptor-b, and leads to early recurrence of cancer.


Tumor markers expressing CK 20 and 7 are emerging as important biologic properties of pancreatic cancer. Expression of CK 20 is also observed in precursor lesions in pancreatic cancer. Further studies should address the role of CK 20 expression in predicting neoplastic progression. The expression of CK 20 and CK 7 in the pancreas are not mutually exclusive, but they should be analyzed together.

Peritoneal cytology

Despite recent advances in the field, the current standard of care for patients with pancreatic cancer is still based on local therapies. The goal of therapy is to stop the progression of the disease and extend life expectancy. Pancreatic cancer tends to spread early; thus, until new systemic therapies become available, local treatments are the only option. Peritoneal cytology for pancreatic tumor markers may provide additional accuracy for strategic planning and staging.

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy

EUS and Fine-needle aspiration biopsy were used in the first study to assess the feasibility of this procedure. Both techniques involve an endoscope inserted into the body or head of the pancreas. A 22-gauge needle was advanced into the target lesion under ultrasound guidance. The biopsy channel was filled with a 30 ml syringe with automatic suction priming. A cytopathologist examined the specimen for cellularity and quality.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a diagnostic procedure involving an endoscope to look at the pancreas and bile ducts. It may also involve injecting dye into the ducts. The dye is then picked up by x-rays and used to help doctors determine whether tumor markers are present. If the tumor is detected, an endoscopic biopsy can be used to remove a sample of the cancerous tissue.