Aims To review the incidence of multiple tumour marker (TM) requesting in the primary care setting and determine whether the rationale for requesting a TM panel is in agreement with evidence-based guidelines.
Methods Data-mining software was used to retrospectively identify multiple TM requests and requesting practices of GP surgeries over a 34-month period for α-fetoprotein, CA125, CA15-3, CA19-9, carcinoembryonic antigen and prostate-specific antigen. The appropriateness of each test was reviewed by a clinical biochemist in accordance with National Association of Clinical Biochemistry best-practice guidelines.
Results 505 multiple TM requests were identified which corresponded to 1304 TM tests. Comparison with best-practice guidelines suggested that 68% of request cards contained no appropriate TM request, and 84% of the tests requested were inappropriate.
Conclusion A review of requesting practices in primary care for TMs highlights the need for laboratories to be more proactive in educating their users on their clinical utility and limitations.
- Tumour marker
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.