Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Test results must be interpreted carefully because several factors can influence test outcomes, such as variations in your body or even what you eat. In addition, keep in mind that noncancerous conditions can sometimes cause abnormal test results. And, in other cases, cancer may be present even though the blood test results are normal.
Your doctor reviews your test results to determine whether your levels fall within a normal range. Or your doctor may compare your results with those from past tests.
Though blood and urine tests can help give your doctor clues, other tests are usually necessary to make the diagnosis. For most forms of cancer, a biopsy — a procedure to obtain a sample of suspicious cells for testing — is usually necessary to make a definitive diagnosis.
In some cases, tumor marker levels are monitored over time. Your doctor may schedule follow-up testing in a few months. Tumor markers are most often helpful after your cancer diagnosis. Your doctor may use these tests to determine whether your cancer is responding to treatment or whether your cancer is growing.
Discuss test results with your doctor. Ask your doctor what your results say about your health and what the next steps should be.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.