ZocdocAnswersDoes an elevated CA-125 test indicate cancer?

Question

Does an elevated CA-125 test indicate cancer?

My doctor recently had some blood work done on me, and now he's reporting that I have high levels of CA-125. I couldn't understand when he was trying to explain this, and there's so much contradictory information on the internet. Is this actually a sign that I have cancer or not?

Answer

The CA 125 test results can be complicated. Without knowing your past medical history, your current symptoms, and most importatnly why the test was done, it is impossible for me to tell what your risk is for having cancer. Let me explain. CA-125 is sometimes, though not always used as a marker for ovarian cancers. There are also some other cancers that CA-125 can very rarely be elevated in such as endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer. There are other non-cancer causes of elevated CA-125 such as endometriosis. However, physicians generally order this test if they are concerned for possible ovarian cancer or during the workup of a patient known to have ovarian cancer. If your CA-125 level was high, then you will need additional studies (Imaging of your abdomen) to look for any evidence of cancer. The best use for CA-125 in medicine is tracking the response to the treatment of ovarian cancer that secretes the molecule. For example in patients who have ovarian cancer with high CA-125, a drop in the level indicates that the cancer cells are dying. I sincerely apologize for any distress this answer has given you. I can only give you the facts. Almost certainly the doctor that ordered the test has a plan for further diagnostic testing or referral to a specialist. You should get evaluated very soon. Good luck.

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