Pancreatic cancer is cancer that starts in the pancreas. The pancreas makes enzymes and hormones vital for promoting digestion and regulating blood sugar.

Specific biomarkers, called tumor markers, can be found in the blood of people with pancreatic cancer. These markers can not only help doctors diagnose pancreatic cancer, but they can also indicate whether a treatment is working.

In this article, we review common Pancreatic Cancer Tumor Markers along with their uses and their accuracy. We look at other methods used to diagnose cancer.

A tumor marker is something that is made by cancer cells or something that is produced by your body in response to cancer. Tumor markers can be other substances or genetic changes.

How tumor markers are used

The measurement of markers for cancer is used. These can include:

  • Helping to diagnose a disease.
  • Targeted therapy can be used for a cancer.
  • If a cancer treatment is effective.
  • estimating the outlook of a disease
  • If cancer has come back or spread.

Common tumor markers for pancreatic cancer

There are a couple of tumor markers used for Pancreatic Cancer. These are the things.

  • Cancer cells make a protein called CA19-9.
  • carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), a protein that’s normally present in the body of a developing fetus, but can also indicate cancer in adults

Both of the two proteins may show up in the blood when there is a diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer. They can be used to help diagnose and see how well the treatments work.

A blood sample is collected from your arm to measure levels of CA19-9 and CEA. The table shows the typical and high ranges for both markers.

Typical values High values
CA19-9 0 to 37 units per milliliter greater than 37 units per milliliter
CEA less than or equal to 3 micrograms per liter (Smoking can increase this value to less than 5 micrograms per liter) higher than 5 micrograms per liter

Tumor markers can be useful for cancer, but they are not always accurate.

For example, some people with pancreatic cancer may not have elevated CA19-9 or CEA. Some research suggests that certain genetic variations can impact the levels of tumor markers for pancreatic cancer.

In other situations, another health condition may be causing elevated CA19-9 or CEA levels.

Additional tests are always needed because of these factors. These can include:

Research into CA19-9 and CEA for pancreatic cancer

A 2018 review compared the utility of measuring CA19-9 and CEA in diagnosing pancreatic cancer. Overall, CA19-9 had a higher sensitivity than CEA in detecting pancreatic cancer.

However, another 2017 review found that, when used along with CA19-9, CEA can still be important in pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Additionally, elevated CEA levels were strongly associated with a poorer outlook in this study.

A 2019 review on using tumor markers to predict pancreatic cancer treatment response concluded that current data is scarce and more research is needed. A 2018 review on tumor markers for the detection of recurrent pancreatic cancer echoes these thoughts.

There are other tests that doctors can use to diagnose Pancreatic Cancer. These include:

Imaging tests

Imaging tests help your doctor get a look inside of your body to find areas that may be cancerous. They may use many The tests are called imaging. for pancreatic cancer, including:

  • CT scan. A CT scan uses X-rays to make cross-sectional images of your abdomen. A special type of CT scan called a multiphase CT scan is often used when pancreatic cancer is suspected.
  • MRI scan. MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets to make images of the inside of your body.
  • PET scan. A PET scan uses a radioactive dye that localizes to cancer cells. A specific type of camera then detects concentrations of this dye in the body. PET scans can also be helpful to see if a cancer has spread.
  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound utilizes sound waves to produce images. A type of ultrasound called an endoscopic ultrasound is typically more helpful than a standard ultrasound for diagnosing pancreatic cancer.
  • Cholangiopancreatography. A cholangiopancreatography can look for tumors blocking pancreatic or bile ducts. They’re often done using an endoscope and X-rays.

Blood tests

In addition to blood tests for tumor markers, a doctor may order Other blood tests are done. if they suspect pancreatic cancer. These include:


A biopsy involves the collection of a small tissue sample from the tumor site. This sample is analyzed in a lab to see if it contains cancer cells.

If cancer is found, other tests can be done to look for certain changes in the body. The presence or absence of these things can help to inform which type of treatment is recommended.

There are several risk factors for cancer.

Screening for high risk groups

The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) recommends that people at an increased risk due to a family history of pancreatic cancer or an inherited genetic syndrome consider screening for pancreatic cancer.

According to the AGA recommendations, the age to start screening depends on an individual’s situation. For example, it may begin as young as age 35 for people with Peutz-Jeghers syndrome is a syndrome. or at age 50 for people with a family history of pancreatic cancer.

Magnetic resonance image and endoscopic ultrasound are used for screening for Pancreatic Cancer. It is recommended that genetic testing be done as well.

Every 12 months is when the screening can take place. If a doctor finds suspicious areas around the pancreas, they may reduce the interval, making it more frequent.

Screening people with an average risk of cancer is not recommended.

What are the early symptoms of pancreatic cancer?

“Pancreatic cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms. This is the reason why many Pancreatic Cancers are not found until they reach an advanced stage. When there is a diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer, symptoms may include:”

What is the one test that can accurately diagnose pancreatic cancer?

The only way to diagnose Pancreatic Cancer is by analyzing a biopsied tissue sample, which is the only test that is helpful in the diagnostic process. A sample of the affected area can be examined for cancer cells.

How common is pancreatic cancer?

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer makes up about 3% of all cancers in the United States. A person’s average lifetime risk of developing pancreatic cancer is about 1 in 64.

Is pancreatic cancer curable if caught early?

“It is difficult to detect Pancreatic Cancer early. Many people don’t have symptoms until cancer is advanced. Smaller tumors may not be easily detected by using a machine.”

The outlook for pancreatic cancer does improve when it’s found early. According to the National Cancer Institute, the 5-year survival rate when cancer is only in the pancreas is 43.9%. This is compared to 14.7% and 3.1% when it’s spread regionally and distantly, respectively.

Cancer cells can make Tumor markers, which are markers of the disease. CA19-9 and CEA are markers used for Pancreatic Cancer.

While the results of blood tests for these biomarkers can provide a doctor with helpful information, further tests are always needed. These may include The tests are called imaging., additional blood tests, and biopsy.

People with a family history of Pancreatic Cancer can be screened for the disease. If either of these apply to you, you should talk to a doctor about how to start screening for Pancreatic Cancer.