Testicular Cancer Tumor Markers
When cancer forms in a person’s body, often specific cancer will produce a unique tumor marker. These tumor markers (found in blood, urine or in the cells of a tumor itself) are usually proteins that are produced by cancer or by the body in response to cancer’s presence.
In the case of testicular cancer, there are specific tumor markers that doctors look for as they try to detect and follow the progression of the disease. Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) are often elevated in the blood of men with testicular cancer.
Seminoma: About 10% of men with seminoma, a type of testicular cancer, will have elevated HCG but will not have elevated AFP.
Non-seminoma (or a mixed type): More than half of men with early stage testicular cancer will have elevated HCG or AFP or both.
Keep in mind, however, that the amount of a marker found in the blood at the time of diagnosis is not necessarily a sign of how successful or unsuccessful treatment and long-term outcomes will be.