Release Date: Mar 2018
CC: PC, MK, PBL, ICS, PR, SBP
Martin Fleisher, PhD, FACB
Laboratory Director, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Circulating tumor markers in blood, urine, and body fluids have been used clinically for monitoring cancer progression for over 50 years with some success. Our discussion will focus on why tumor markers are: 1) not used for screening or diagnosis of disease; 2) used for monitoring progression of disease during therapy; 3) used prognostically to plan future therapy. Understanding the analytical characteristics of a tumor marker requires an in-depth understanding of the cancer itself. Too often, certain analytical considerations of a tumor marker such as sensitivity and specificity are overlooked in clinical usefulness of tumor markers. Although tumor markers are not diagnostic for cancer, there are many tumor markers that are quite specific for certain cancers--for example, AFP and hCG in germ cell tumors, calcitonin in medullary thyroid cancer, PSA in prostatic cancer, and immunoglobulins in lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Recently, circulating tumor cells and circulating free DNA (cfDNA) have been used successfully to diagnose the presence of metastatic cancer and to specifically characterize the genomic nature of the cancer. These new technologies may be the future of how tumor markers are used in the clinic and examples of these advancements will be presented and discussed.
After attending this session, participants will be able to:
- Identify the classical and practical characteristics of an ideal tumor marker.
- Understand the complexity in the analytical aspects in measuring circulating tumor markers.
- Understand how tumor markers are used for clinical management and the precautions that must be taken.
Who should attend? Practicing Pathologists, Residents, Doctoral Scientists, Pathologists’ Assistants, Laboratory Managers, Bench Supervisors, Bench Technologists and Technicians, Students