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Dr. Jack West is a medical oncologist and thoracic oncology specialist, and Executive Director of Employer Services at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, CA.

Video: What is the utility of serum tumor markers in managing lung cancer?
Sat, 01/05/2013 - 09:25
Howard (Jack) West, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Medical Oncology, Executive Director, Employer Services, Founder, President and CEO of GRACE

The question of whether and how to use blood tests, and particularly serum tumor markers, to monitor the status of a lung cancer has come up often here.  There are a few places where we've covered this in text, but for those of you who would prefer a video format for your information gathering, here's a podcast I just did on that subject for Swedish Medical Center.


I'll underscore that this remains a controversial area, and part of the reason the question comes up so often is that so many oncologists use serum tumors. As I try to convey in the video, I think there might be a way to use them in a limited fashion, but the danger is that we often see more emphasis placed on these results than any data would justify (there is little to no evidence indicating that their use leads to improved results).

What are your thoughts about serum tumor markers? If you're a patient or caregiver, are they being checked? If so, is there a lot of emphasis placed on these results? Do the results cause anxiety for you and/or your doc? Do the findings lead to a change in management or otherwise guide treatment? And if serum tumor markers aren't being checked or you don't know, do you want that information if it might provide another metric to follow, but not necessarily one that adds to imaging and clinical measures (i.e., how the person is actually doing and feeling)?

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