The CA-125 test is a blood test that measures the level of a protein called Cancer Antigen 125 in the blood. CA-125 values are found to be high in most women with ovarian cancer. The ovaries are organs in the female reproductive system that are responsible for the production of eggs and hormones required for pregnancy.
What is the CA-125 Test?
The CA-125 test is a test that diagnoses ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer, which occurs when there is an uncontrolled proliferation of ovarian cells. Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly female cancers that can be detected mostly at an advanced stage.
Because high test values may be due to causes other than ovarian cancer, this test is not suitable for screening for early detection of cancer in women at average risk who are not at high risk for ovarian cancer.
The main area of use of this test is in women who have already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This test can provide information about whether the cancer treatment is working or whether the cancer has come back.
For Ovarian Cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment methods, you can review my Ovarian Cancer article .
For What Purposes Is the CA-125 Test Used?
The CA-125 test is used to monitor the results of ovarian cancer (ovarian cancer) treatment. If your test result levels are falling, the treatment is working.
It is used to follow the disease recurrences after treatment.
It is also performed for screening in patients with familial breast-ovarian cancer syndrome (BRCA1 or BRCA2) with a high incidence of ovarian cancer.
Why Is Testing Needed?
If you are already receiving treatment for ovarian cancer, a CA-125 test may be required. Your gynecological oncology surgeon or medical oncologist will want to see if the treatment is working by ordering this test periodically.
If your risk of ovarian cancer is higher than the general population, the physicians following you will perform the test intermittently and evaluate the risk.
How is the CA-125 Test Done?
This test is performed just like any other blood test. A blood collection nurse or health personnel will enter your arm veins with a small needle and take a small sample of blood required for this test and send it to the laboratory.
How Much Should CA-125 Be?
The results of the Ca-125 test should normally be within the reference range of 0 to 35 values. Values in the reference range of 35 to 50 should be controlled. If Ca-125 test results are higher than 50, diagnosis and treatment should be initiated with the suspicion of ovarian cancer.
Does CA – Increase in 125 Menstrual Period?
The Ca-125 test may increase during the menstrual period and in the early stages of pregnancy. In some cases, conditions such as the formation of endometriosis and pelvic inflammation also cause an increase in the level of ca-125.
What Do Test Results Mean?
If you are being treated for ovarian cancer and your test results are declining during treatment, this indicates that you are responding well to treatment. If test results do not decrease or increase despite treatment, this may be a sign that the cancer is not responding to treatment.
If you have been treated for ovarian cancer before and your test value was found to be high in the examinations, this can tell you that the cancer has come back.
If you are not being treated for ovarian cancer and somehow the desired test value is found to be high, this may be a sign of cancer but can also lead to a higher test value in many non-cancerous conditions.
CA-125 test results may increase if:
- Endometriosis is a disease that is diagnosed by the detection of the intrauterine membrane layer outside the uterus and often causes infertility and pelvic pain. Test levels are often elevated in patients with endometriosis, which also causes chocolate cyst formation.
- Pelvic infections, infections in the female reproductive organs also cause test height.
- Fibroids can sometimes lead to high test values.
- Test levels may be elevated in liver diseases.
- Test levels may be elevated during pregnancy.
- In menstruating women, the test values taken during menstruation will be found to be high.
In summary, the CA-125 test is generally used for treatment response in ovarian cancer. If your follow-up doctor suspects ovarian cancer and your CA-125 test is found to be high, he or she will ask you to be evaluated by a gynecologist oncologist.
Dr. Derman Başaran’s Interests
Early diagnosis and surgical treatment of gynecological cancers.
Determination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy needs after surgery in patients with gynecological cancer.
Surgical treatment of benign but complicated gynecological and obstetric problems (such as genital fistulas, placental adhesion problems)
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