CA 125 (cont.)

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What conditions other than ovarian cancer can cause an increased CA 125?

A number of benign conditions can cause elevations of the CA 125 level, including pregnancy, endometriosis, uterine fibroids (benign tumors), pancreatitis, normal menstruation, pelvic inflammatory disease, and liver disease. Benign tumors or cysts of the ovaries can also cause an abnormal test result. Increases can also be seen in cancers other than ovarian cancer, including malignancies of the uterine tubes, endometrium, lung, breast, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract.

Is CA 125 testing useful as a cancer screening test?

Although CA 125 is a useful test in monitoring women who are being treated for ovarian cancer, a single CA 125 test is not considered to be a useful screening test for cancer. Some women with ovarian cancer (up to 20%) never have elevated CA 125 levels, while most women who do have elevated CA 125 levels do not have cancer. In fact, because CA 125 can be elevated in so many non-cancerous conditions, only about 3% of women with elevated CA 125 levels have ovarian cancer.

Medically reviewed by Jeffrey A. Gordon, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialties in Medical Oncology and Hematology

REFERENCE:

Hussain, Fazal. "Gynecologic Tumor Markers." eMedicine. Mar. 30, 2009. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/269839-overview>.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/29/2014

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