CA125

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The CA-125 Test is a blood test that measures the level of a protein called cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) in the blood. This protein is produced by cells in the female reproductive system, including the ovaries, and may be elevated in women with certain types of cancer, especially ovarian cancer. The CA-125 test is primarily used as a tumor marker to monitor response to treatment and to detect recurrence of ovarian cancer. However, it can also be used to evaluate other conditions that can cause elevated CA-125 levels, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. The test involves drawing a small amount of blood from an arm vein and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. Results are usually available within a day. While the CA-125 test is not diagnostic for ovarian cancer, it can provide important information for clinical decision-making and ongoing management of patients with this disease.

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Awaiting result:

One day

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Collect material:

Blood

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Prepare:

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Purpose of the test

The CA-125 Test is primarily used as a tumor marker to monitor response to treatment and to detect recurrence of ovarian cancer. However, it can also be used to evaluate other conditions that may cause elevated CA-125 levels, such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. The test is not diagnostic for ovarian cancer, but it can provide important information for clinical decision making and ongoing management of patients with this disease.

The CA-125 test may be ordered by a healthcare provider for several reasons, including

1. Ovarian cancer surveillance: Women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer may undergo CA-125 testing to monitor their response to treatment and to detect signs of recurrence. A rising CA-125 level over time may indicate that the cancer is growing or spreading.

2. Diagnosing ovarian cancer: The CA-125 test is not a definitive diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, but it may be used in conjunction with other tests and imaging studies to help diagnose the disease. A high CA-125 level in combination with other symptoms or findings may suggest the presence of ovarian cancer.

3. Evaluation of pelvic masses: Women who have a pelvic mass or cyst may undergo CA-125 testing to help determine whether it is benign or malignant. A high CA-125 level, in combination with other factors such as age and menopausal status, may increase the likelihood of malignancy.

4. Monitoring for endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing pain and other symptoms. The CA-125 test can be used to monitor disease activity and response to treatment in women with endometriosis.

5. Monitoring uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus and can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain, and other symptoms. The CA-125 test can be used to monitor disease activity and response to treatment in women with uterine fibroids.

Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is critical for successful treatment and improved outcomes. The CA-125 test can help detect ovarian cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. However, the test is not specific for ovarian cancer and can be elevated in other conditions, leading to false positive results. False negative results are also possible, meaning that a woman with ovarian cancer may have a normal CA-125 level. Therefore, the CA-125 test should be used in conjunction with other tests and imaging studies.

Who Should Get Tested

The CA-125 test is not recommended as a routine screening test for ovarian cancer in women who do not have symptoms or who are at high risk for developing the disease. However, it may be recommended for certain groups of women, including

1. Women who have symptoms of ovarian cancer: Women who have persistent abdominal bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency may be recommended for CA-125 testing.

2. Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer: Women who have a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with ovarian cancer may be at increased risk of developing the disease themselves and may be recommended to undergo the CA-125 test.

3. Women with a personal history of breast cancer: Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer may be at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer and may be recommended to undergo CA-125 testing.

4. Women with hereditary cancer syndromes: Women who have inherited mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, that increase their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer may be recommended to undergo CA-125 testing as part of their surveillance plan.

It should be kept in mind that the CA-125 test is not specific for ovarian cancer and can be elevated in other conditions, leading to false positive results. Therefore, it should only be used in conjunction with other tests and imaging studies to diagnose and manage ovarian cancer.

Preparing for the Test
Fasting
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Depending on the type of cholesterol test, you may be required to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test. This means avoiding all food and drinks except water. Fasting is usually required for a lipid panel, which measures LDL and HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Medications
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Inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, as they can affect your test results.
Alcohol
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Avoid alcohol consumption for at least 24 hours before the test, as alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
Exercise
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Avoid heavy exercise for 24 hours before the test, as this can also affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Smoking
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Avoid smoking or using any nicotine products for at least 30 minutes before the test, as they can temporarily increase cholesterol levels.
Follow instructions
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Follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as the time of day to take the test or any dietary restrictions.
Interpreting Test Results

The CA-125 Test measures the level of a protein called cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) in the blood. Normal CA-125 levels are typically less than 35 units per milliliter (U/mL) in premenopausal women and less than 40 U/mL in postmenopausal women. However, CA-125 levels can vary from person to person and can be affected by several factors, including age, menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions.

Elevated CA-125 levels may indicate the presence of ovarian cancer or other conditions that can cause elevated CA-125 levels, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids. However, a single elevated CA-125 level is not diagnostic of ovarian cancer and should be interpreted in conjunction with other tests and imaging studies.

Interpretation of CA-125 test results depends on several factors, including

1. The patient's age and menopausal status: Normal CA-125 levels vary depending on whether a woman is premenopausal or postmenopausal.

2. The patient's medical history: Elevated CA-125 levels can be caused by conditions other than ovarian cancer, such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

3. Trend of CA-125 levels over time: An increasing trend in CA-125 levels over time may indicate disease progression or recurrence in patients with ovarian cancer.

4. The cutoff used by the laboratory: Different laboratories may use different cutoff values to define normal versus elevated CA-125 levels.

An important thing to note is that false positive results are possible with the CA-125 test, meaning that a woman without ovarian cancer may have an elevated CA-125 level due to other factors. False negative results are also possible, meaning that a woman with ovarian cancer may have a normal CA-125 level.

Therefore, interpretation of CA-125 test results should be done in consultation with a healthcare provider who is familiar with the patient's medical history and other relevant factors.

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