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A biomarker is a biological measure that can be used to detect or monitor a feature of a disease, such as cancer.

Why are they important?

Biomarkers can measure whether cancer has progressed or if it is likely to respond to treatment. Various measures can be used as biomarkers – including genetic mutations, proteins produced by tumours, or physical or biological changes detected on a scan. 

At The Institute of Cancer Research, London, we lead the way in biomarker research. At the Drug Development Unit, for example – a joint unit of the ICR and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – we have had great success in using biomarkers to drive clinical trials that investigate new cancer treatments.

Read our consensus statements on biomarkers

Read our positioning statement on accessing biomarker tests on the NHS

Read our positioning statement on creating new biomarker tests to guide cancer treatment