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What is ca 125 test all about? Why it is done and how it is done?

CA 125 is that protein which is like tumor marker and is present mainly in the cells of a tumor rather than other cells of the body. This protein or substance is mostly present in the ovarian cancer cells. The protein was first detected in the early 1980s but its purpose or function isn’t understood. You may be wondering what does CA stands for. Well, CA stands for Cancer Antigen. Through the CA 125 test, CA 125 may be measured. The test is vital for the ones suffering from ovarian cancer.

How is the test carried out?

Cancer antigen test is carried out by collecting blood sample from the veins of the person. CA 125 may also be measured by collecting the fluid from person’s abdominal cavity or chest. During the test, the antibody which is against CA 125 is directed. This technique is referred to as monoclonal antibody technique. In the year 1991, the improved version of this test was devised. It is denoted or referred to as CA 125 II Test. The second generation test might have the higher numerical value than the first generation or may not. Indeed, the first generation CA 125 is obsolete and only second generation test is being used. 

What should be the normal range for CA 125?

The range for CA 125 may vary from lab to lab. This is only to some extent and not much difference is noticed. In most of the laboratories, the usual value can be between 0-35units/ml. Through the blood test, the level of CA 125 is detected. But, an elevated level of CA 125 might not necessarily mean ovarian cancer. But, it still helps to find the likelihood for ovarian cancer. If a woman in her postmenopausal phase measures an elevated level of CA125, it means she has a high probability of getting ovarian cancer. With regards to the younger women, the level of CA-125 is really inaccurate. The level may seem elevated due to a variety of factors. It includes stomach disease, delivery, problem in bowel movement, etc.

There must be solid reasons for taking the test. The test is not that reliable way to screen ovarian cancer. If the test result shows an elevated level of CA 125, other tests may be performed along with it.

What does the test result indicate?

If CA-125 level is abnormally high, proper interpretations have to be made. The patient must be evaluated on various other parameters. Know one thing that elevated levels don’t suggest Ovarian Cancer. The purpose of doing the test is to know the progress of cancer which is already diagnosed. Other kinds of cancer diseases may also increase the level of CA-125. Around 80% of women having epithelial ovarian cancer has elevated level of CA-125. If Ovarian Cancer is already found out, regular test will be scheduled to monitor the level. If the level of CA-125 decreases as shown through the test, it means that chemotherapy treatment is effective and other treatments too. An increasing level suggests the recurrence of tumor. If a patient is tested for pelvic mass and the CA 125 level is more than 65, it suggests malignancy.

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