No tumor marker is of value in diagnosing melanoma of the skin and there are no markers used to detect for advanced disease. However, there are some promising markers currently being studied:
TA-90 is a tumor-associated antigen first identified in the urine and sera of patients with metastatic melanoma. This marker has been utilized to evaluate whether the melanoma has metastasized, however its utility is somewhat limited due to the fact that TA-90 can be elevated in the absence of metastasis.
Serum S-100 protein levels may be a useful tumor marker in patients with metastatic disease. Its levels are elevated in the blood with advanced disease.
Recently, glypican-3 (GPC3), a novel tumor marker, has been discovered that may be useful for the diagnosis of melanoma, especially in early stages of the disorder.
Go to the Tumor Markers page of the Diagnostic Tests module for more information.