CA 125

Other names: CA-125

The CA 125 test is a protein, which is present in some normal cells; it is also usually present on the surface of ovarian cancer cells.

When is the test used?

CA 125 is a marker for ovarian cancer; it may be used to monitor the condition of women who have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer, including those with a family history of ovarian cancer and women over 50 who have persistent abdominal pain or problems with urination.

The test is usually used to monitor the success of treatment for ovarian cancer but it may also be used to monitor the condition of a woman who has already been treated for ovarian cancer; the test will usually be done regularly to detect early warning signs that the cancer has returned.

How is the test done?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the arm (usually a vein on the inside of the elbow, as these are usually more prominent). A needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results mean?

High levels of CA 125 during a course of treatment may indicate that the patient is not responding well to treatment for ovarian cancer. If the test is carried out after the treatment has been completed, high levels of CA 125 may indicate that the cancer has returned.

If levels of CA 125 fall during treatment, this indicates that the treatment is successful.

Specific Blood Tests

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