Tumor Markers

Key Information

Baseline and observation

To assess tumor burden and monitor for recurrence

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) Antigen

Monitors tumor burden after treatment for squamous cell carcinoma; usually used for advanced disease; primary application is head and neck cancer, secondarily for lung cancer


Measures iron storage protein in sialic acid; low levels suggest good prognosis in head and neck malignancies, although test is nonspecific for head and neck cancer

PLP Parathyroid hormone-like Protein

Elevated levels of this circulating hormone are found in squamous cell cancer and in breast cancer

Other Tumor Markers

Carcinoembryonic Antigen

Persistent elevated levels indicate residual or recurrent metastatic carcinoma; smoking may affect accuracy of CEA results

Calcitonin (for thyroid cancer)

Elevated levels of this thyroid hormone occasionally occur with small cell lung cancer; increasing levels may indicate progression of disease

Thyroglobulin (for thyroid cancer)

Elevated levels of this serum hormone are found in follicular carcinoma and return to normal following treatment if all tumor is removed; useful for monitoring residual disease and recurrence of follicular carcinoma

Go to the Tumor Markers page of the Diagnostic Tests module for more information.