Is there a link between CRP and cancer?

CRP is a biomarker for inflammation in the body. Its elevated level may signal a variety of health issues, such as a bacterial or viral infection. Cancer, including breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer, can cause elevated CRP. The measure is also used to assess cancer patients’ prognosis.

The acute phase protein C-reactive protein (CRP) is produced by the liver during the systemic inflammatory response. Its synthesis is influenced by pro-inflammatory cytokines. CRP is produced into the blood within 24 hours of the inflammatory response beginning and returns to normal when the inflammation decreases.

The CRP standard is < 6 mg/l . Smokers and pregnant women may have higher protein levels.

A high CRP level may indicate:

  • bacterial infections (e.g. streptococcal, staphylococcal infection),
  • viral infections (e.g. hepatitis B),
  • autoimmune inflammatory disease (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, enteritis),
  • mycosis.

The C-reactive protein test can also be used to tell the difference between bacterial and viral illnesses. Bacterial infections are more likely to cause significantly increased CRP levels (even greater than 100 mg/l). CRP levels are lower (30-40 mg/l) in viral infections.

CRP and cancer. When is high CRP indicative of cancer?

CRP is a non-specific marker of inflammation, and its elevated level may indicate cancer. Studies report both  1 mg/l and above 175 mg/l, but the higher the score, the greater the likelihood of more advanced cancer, the presence of metastases, and a worse prognosis. 

High CRP is due to the constant, low-grade inflammatory response that accompanies advancing cancer. It is important to remember that not every cancer will result in an elevated C-reactive protein, and not every elevated result will mean that we are dealing with cancer.

What kind of cancer can a high CRP indicate?

Elevated levels of CRP in the blood may indicate various types of cancer, such as:

  • colorectal cancer ,
  • lung cancer ,
  • stomach cancer ,
  • breast cancer
  • prostate cancer (prostate),
  • lymphoma ,
  • pancreatic cancer .

CRP and OB

CRP, like the ESR (Bernacki test), indicates the presence of an inflammatory reaction in the body, although the acute phase protein is a more stable characteristic that does not change as much. CRP has no effect on OB. If the ESR is markedly increased while the CRP is normal, myeloma is most likely present (cancer of the hematopoietic system).

CRP and prognosis in cancer patients

The CRP test is used to determine the prognosis of cancer patients. If the CRP is high and there are no symptoms of infection, the prognosis is poor. That could be an indication of a more serious problem. The CRP test can be used to predict the prognosis of tumors such as lung cancer, colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, and soft tissue sarcoma. However, keep in mind that a high CRP score does not indicate malignancy. Further tests are required to confirm or rule out cancer.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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