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Biomarkers can be used in a variety of ways for the management of patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). James C. Yao, MD, notes that biomarkers may be used to aid in screening, diagnosis, prognosis, and predictively to select optimal treatments.
Varying levels of evidence and recommendations exist concerning biomarkers in NETs. Unfortunately, due to the intrinsic nature of the disease, a successful biomarker does not exist for screening patients, Yao regrets. However, to help diagnosis carcinoid tumors, Yao recommends the 5-HIAA test, which measures average serotonin levels over a 24 hour period. This marker is helpful but is not sufficient by itself to make a diagnosis.
Overall, selecting the most appropriate test should be tailored to the individual patient’s needs based on their symptoms. Yao and Rodney F. Pommier, MD, both agree that the markers examined should be selected very specifically on a patient-to-patient basis.