What types of cancers are detected through blood test?


Quick Answer

A complete blood count can detect different types of blood cancer, according to Mayo Clinic. A blood protein test can find certain abnormalities present in patients with multiple myeloma. Tests for different tumor markers in the blood provide clues when other cancers are suspected.

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Full Answer

A complete blood count is a test that checks the amount of different blood cells present in the blood, according to Mayo Clinic. Cancer is suspected when the amount of particular cells is too high or too low. A bone marrow biopsy is sometimes ordered for confirmation.

Serum protein electrophoresis is a test used to check abnormalities in immune protein cells in the blood called immunoglobulins, explains Mayo Clinic. Abnormal immunoglobulins are sometimes found in patients with multiple myeloma.

Tumor markers are chemicals made by cancer cells that can be present in the blood of patients with certain types of cancer, explains Mayo Clinic. These chemicals, however, are also made by normal cells in the body and can be present in the blood of healthy people, which is why testing for them to diagnose cancer is controversial and limited. Examples of tumor markers include prostate-serum antigen for prostate cancer, cancer-antigen 125 for ovarian cancer and medullary thyroid cancer, alpha fetal protein for liver caner, and chorionic human gonadotropin for testicular and ovarian cancer.

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