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CA 125 (for women)

About the test
What is this test done for?
CA-125 is a protein found in higher concentrations in tumor cells, especially in ovarian cancer cells in women. CA stands for cancer antigen. It is a biomarker for tumors. This test is performed to measure the amount of cancer antigen in the blood stream.
Why is it Done?
CA-125 is usually performed to detect ovarian cancers in women who have a strong family history of ovarian cancer. It is also done in suspected cases of endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disorders, and uterine fibroids, which may be non-cancerous. This test is also recommended in suspected cases of pancreatic cancers. When a woman is undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, CA-125 helps to monitor disease progression.
When should it be performed?

CA-125 is usually done as a screening test.

  • Mostly asymptomatic
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight gain
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Constipation
  • Acute abdominal pain due to torsion mass
  • Solid irregular and fixed adnexal mass. Adnexal masses in postmenopausal women are usually pathologic.
How is it done
This test is done by withdrawing blood from the vein in the arm. It does not require fasting.

Positive test results mean that the patient is having more than 35 units per mL of the antigen and indicates ovarian cancer. However, many other health conditions can also elevate the levels. These include the following:

  • Endometrial carcinoma
  • Endocervical adenocarcinoma
  • Pancreatic carcinoma
  • Breast carcinoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Lung carcinoma
  • Colorectal carcinoma
  • Squamous cervical/vaginal carcinoma
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory diseases
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation

Negative test results mean that the patient does not have ovarian cancer.

Other Tests

Any result of the CA-125 test should be supplemented with transvaginal sonography, rectovaginal pelvic examination, and serial CA-125 testing.

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