Contributed by – Rachana Arya
What is the CA 125 serum test?
A CA 125 serum test measures the amount of CA-125 or cancer antigen in the blood. It is used to monitor women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
While this is an important test, it is not a key marker for ovarian cancer. The level of this antigen is typically elevated in women with ovarian cancer. However, it can also be higher than normal in some conditions that are not cancer, which means that CA 125 should not be the only blood test to screen all women for ovarian cancer.
The other names for this test are cancer antigen 125, glycoprotein antigen, ovarian cancer antigen.
Who should get tested?
Your doctor might order the CA 125 test to:
- monitor an existing cancer treatment
- evaluate early-stage disease or precancerous conditions
- check for the possibility of cancer reoccurrence even after treatment
- assess whether treatment for cancer is responding or not
- look for ovarian cancer in women who may be at high risk because of family history or exhibit symptoms such as bloating, trouble eating, feeling full sooner than normal, the urge to urinate often or regularly, extreme fatigue, heartburn, an upset stomach, menstrual changes, constipation and pain during sex.
Why is the CA-125 serum test needed?
The CA-125 test may be needed if a woman has symptoms or findings on ultrasound that suggest ovarian cancer. Measuring CA-125 is most needed for the quantitative determination of the CA 125 glycoprotein antigen in the bloodstream.
What does a CA 125 serum test result mean?
Many laboratories consider the normal range of CA 125 result as less than 35 U/mL.
Higher than normal results
An elevated CA 125 level indicates –
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Colon cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Breast cancer
- Liver cancer
- Digestive tract cancer
Elevated levels can also be due to non-cancerous medical conditions.
Lower than normal results
If the level of CA-125 drops, then it usually means that your body is responding to the treatment measures.
How is the test done?
CA125 can be measured through a simple blood test. During the test, a pathologist will take a sample of blood by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm. The sample is sent to a laboratory for clinical analysis. There isn’t anything that you need to take care of before undergoing the CA-125 test, and there aren’t any risks involved. After all, the process resembles a regular blood test. You can return to your usual activities immediately.
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