CA 19-9 Tumor Marker

CA 19-9 is name of a commonly used tumor marker. Tumor markers are substances, whose concentrations in blood significantly elevate in certain malignant diseases.


CA 19-9 is associated with diseases and tumors of digestive tract, particularly diseases of the pancreas. It is detectable from a sample of peripheral venous blood, but its concentration may be evaluate even from samples of other fluids such as fluid from a pancreatic cyst obtained by fine needle aspiration.


Elevated level of CA 19-9 usually accompanies pancreatic cancer and it can be also found in some types of colorectal cancer, liver cancer and esophageal cancer. However, the CA 19-9 alone is not sufficient in diagnostics and it must be accompanied with other methods such as imaging techniques (ultrasound, CT scan) and endoscopic procedures in tumors of the digestive tube (upper GI endoscopy, colonoscopy). Regular checks of CA 19-9 serum blood level have a better use in therapy of a particular cancer, where the recurring elevation corresponds with the recurring disease.


CA 19-9 is frequently elevated not only in tumors, but also in various other diseases such as in acute and chronic pancreatitis, liver cirrhosis and in people with impaired flow of bile. On the other hand, the level of CA 19-9 may be normal even in the above-mentioned malignancies. However, these disadvantages are also common for other tumor markers.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources