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Provista Blog > Types Of Biomarkers & Breast Cancer Detection

Provista Blog

Types Of Biomarkers & Breast Cancer Detection

Posted by Provista Diagnostics on January 4, 2017
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A biomarker is defined by the National Cancer Institute as "a biological molecule found in the blood, other bodily fluids or tissue that is a sign of normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease." Biomarkers may be produced by both normal cells and cancer cells, but are often up-regulated or misregulated in cancer. The types of biomarkers used today in medicine and research generally fall into several categories. Molecular biomarkers, also called molecular markers or biochemical markers are of the most common types. These are often genes or proteins, such as HER-2/neu in breast cancer. In the following text, we explain three types of biomarkers in breast cancer.

Types of Biomarkers in Breast Cancer Detection

  • Molecular or Biochemical Biomarkers 
    Molecular or biochemical markers are biological molecules found in body fluid or tissues. In cancer, molecular biomarkers are often genes products such as proteins. An example is prostate specific antigen. This is a protein produced by prostate cells. Molecular biomarkers are no longer confined to a single molecule. Instead, they may consist of a panel of different biochemical entities that together serve as a biochemical signature.

  • Physiologic Biomarkers
    Physiologic biomarkers are those that have to do with the functional processes in the body. For example, blood flow in brain areas affected by stroke is being investigated as a potential indicator of treatment success. As imaging techniques become more advanced, we are likely to see an increase in the investigation and use of physiologic biomarkers.

  • Anatomic Biomarkers
    Anatomic biomarkers are those that have to do with the structure of an organism and the relation of its parts. Anatomic biomarkers include the structure of various organs such as the brain or liver. For instance, the size of certain brain structures in relation to one another is a biomarker for a movement disorder known as Huntington disease. The discovery of anatomic biomarkers is also being facilitated by the development of imaging techniques.
Types of Biomarkers.pngSource: Biomarkers in Cancer


In cancer research and medicine, biomarkers are used in three primary ways:

  1. To help diagnose conditions, such as identifying cancers at an early stage (diagnostic biomarkers)

  2. To forecast how aggressive a condition is, thus determining a patient’s ability to fare in the absence of treatment (prognostic biomarkers)

  3. To predict how well a patient will respond to treatment (predictive biomarkers)

    Download our Latest Guide on the Power of Protein Biomarkers In Cancer  Detection

The accuracy of biomarkers varies greatly depending on a variety of factors such as how specific they are for the disease and how accurately they can be measured. New technology is being developed in which combinations of different biomarkers can be used in a diagnostic setting to detect cancers. This provides a great opportunity for breast cancer, for when biomarkers are used in conjunction with imaging, survival rates could be improved. Adding a diagnostic tool to imaging procedures for breast cancer detection will allow breast cancer to have more accuracy in detection and be detected earlier.

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Provista Diagnostics

Provista Diagnostics

At Provista Diagnostics, our mission is to develop world-class diagnostic tests for indications in breast and gynecologic cancers. As a leading diagnostics company, our aim is to create, produce and market innovative solutions for unmet clinical needs. Our products and services help to diagnose diseases and inform better clinical decisions, thus enhancing women’s health and quality of life. We do this in a responsible and ethical manner with a commitment to excellence in every aspect of our business.