Every person has a unique pattern of biomarkers, many of which have been monitored throughout our lives. Measurements made during a routine doctor’s visit, such as blood pressure or body weight, are simple examples. Other biomarkers can be based on laboratory tests of blood, urine, or tissues. Broadly speaking, biomarkers are characteristics of the body that can be measured or detected to better understand your diagnosis, potentially predict how it will progress, and/or potentially help determine the best treatment.
Cancer biomarkers are more precise than the measurements taken during a routine visit with your doctor. Cancer cells were originally healthy cells, so your doctor needs ways to spot the disease in a sea of normal cells and tissues. Biomarkers may include genes, proteins, and other substances that provide information about your cancer. Some biomarkers can even help us understand how to treat specific forms of cancer by indicating what treatments that particular cancer may be sensitive or resistant to.
What Are Biomarkers Used For?
Cancer biomarkers can be used in a variety of ways: