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CA-125: exam evaluates risk for ovarian cancer

CA-125: exam evaluates risk for ovarian cancer

The CA-125 exam measures the amount of this tumor marker in the blood. The CA-125 antigen is a protein present in most ovarian cancer cells, and is therefore commonly used during and after treatment.

In some cases, CA-125 can be used to evaluate early signs of cancer. ovarian cancer or patients at high risk for this type of tumor.

The body naturally produces small amounts of CA-125, and this does not indicate any disease. Some conditions may moderately elevate levels of this marker, such as menstruation, pregnancy or pelvic inflammation.

Significantly elevated levels of CA-125 in the blood may indicate the presence of ovarian cancer or, in some cases, other types of tumor, such as ovarian cancer, endometrium, peritoneum, or fallopian tubes.


The CA-125 test is primarily used to monitor the treatment of ovarian cancer. It can also be used to detect if cancer has returned after treatment is complete.

The test is sometimes used to test and monitor women at high risk for ovarian cancer but who do not yet have the disease. However, the test is not used for ovarian cancer screening - how is mammography for breast cancer? as not all women with high levels of CA-125 will have cancer and vice versa.

Sometimes the CA-125 test can be ordered along with transvaginal ultrasonography to help detect ovarian cancer early in women at high risk of developing the disease. It can also sometimes be ordered to help investigate other tumors, such as ovarian, endometrial, peritoneal or fallopian cancers.


Because it is a common blood test, there are no express contraindications for CA -125. However, the doctor or doctor will tell you whether or not you can take the test.

Pregnant can do?

Women during pregnancy are allowed to take the examination as directed medical, there being no contraindications. However, gestation can raise CA-125 levels without any serious illness or condition.

Exam Preparation

No special preparation is required for the CA-125 exam. But it is important to tell the doctor or doctor what medications you take regularly, including dietary supplements. In some cases, it may be necessary to stop using the medication.

How it is done

In a hospital or laboratory, the CA-125 exam is performed by a healthcare professional as follows:

  • With the patient sitting, a rubber band is tied around his arm to stop the flow of blood. This causes the veins to become wider, helping the practitioner hit one of them.
  • The professional cleans the arm area to be penetrated by the needle.
  • The needle is inserted into the vein. This procedure can be done more than once until the health care provider hits the vein and is able to remove the blood.
  • Blood collected in the syringe and placed in a tube
  • The elastic is removed and a gauze is placed on the where the health professional inserted the needle, to prevent any bleeding. He or she can put pressure on the bandage to stagnate blood
  • A bandage is placed on the spot.

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Examination time

A CA-125 exam takes a few minutes to complete, and may take longer in cases where the healthcare provider has difficulty hitting the vein to collect the blood.

Post-examination recommendations

There are no special recommendations following the examination. The patient can do his / her activities normally. If the blood sample is used for other tests that require fasting, the patient may eat after collection.

Examination frequency


The risks involved in performing the CA-125 exam are extremely rare . At most, there may be a hematoma at the site where blood was withdrawn. In some cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is collected (phlebitis), but this can be reversed by making a compress several times a day.

People who use anticoagulant medications or have coagulation problems may suffer from a bleeding after collection. In these cases, it is important to inform the health care professional of the problem prior to collection.


The test results are usually available four days to one week after collection. The interpretation of the CA-125 exam depends on the reason why it was required. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor about any questions you may have.

Normal results

TGO levels are measured in units of atomic mass (U) per milliliter of blood (ml). The value considered normal is 35 U / mL or below, and the minimum limit for antigen detection in the test is usually 0.6 U / mL.

The reference values ​​shown here are only a guide, since may change from laboratory to laboratory. In addition, the physician or physician will evaluate the results according to the patient and their characteristics, such as age and related diseases.

Abnormal results

Conditions that increase CA-125 amounts in the blood are:

  • Hepatic disease, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Lupus
  • Uterine fibroids
  • The types of cancer that can raise levels of CA-125 include:
  • Ovarian cancer (most common)
  • Endometrial cancer

Cancer of the fallopian tubes

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Cancer of the liver
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Tumors that spread through the peritoneum, including lymphoma. These types of cancer usually occur along with the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen (ascites).
  • Other conditions can raise CA-125 levels, such as the menstrual cycle and pregnancy in the first trimester.
  • What may affect the test result?
  • Some situations may affect the test results:

Use of medicines to treat cancer

Recent abdominal surgeries

Recent exams using radioactive material

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