Tumor Markers

Tumor markers can be diagnostic, predictive, and/or prognostic.

  • Diagnostic: Aid in making diagnosis
  • Predictive: Associated with response to treatment
  • Prognostic: Associated with disease outcome (e.g., overall survival)

Most ovarian cancer markers are prognostic and are used to monitor for recurrence.

Ovarian Tumor Markers
Ovarian Tumor Type Marker Marker Type Significance Clinical Cutpoints*
Epithelial tumors CA-125 Prognostic Circulating Correlates w/ stage & tumor burden High levels indicate ovarian tumor
HE4 Prognostic Circulating Correlates w/ stage & tumor burden Increases by ≥25% associated with relapse/progression

Decreases ≥25% indicate therapeutic response
Germ cell tumors Alpha-fetoprotein (α-FP) Diagnostic & Prognostic Circulating Nonspecific marker – also seen in liver cancer Vary by age & sex
Human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) Diagnostic & Prognostic Circulating Rules in tumor Does not rule out tumor >0 ng/mL

*Note: Clinical cutpoints and their meaningfulness vary by testing laboratory and are there fore not absolutes.

Click here to view the Tumor Markers page of the Diagnostic Tests module for more information.

Updated: June 8, 2018