Cancer antigen 125 is a type of tumor marker. An elevated level of CA-125 may indicate ovarian or other types of cancer. This testing is used as a screening test in people who are at higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What is CA-125?
CA-125 test is a tumor marker test which analyzes the level of cancer antigen 125 in the bloodstream. High levels of this protein may indicate certain types of cancer including ovarian cancer and other benign conditions.
What are the purposes of this test?
Not only ovarian cancer, but different conditions can cause an elevated level of this protein. This test measures the amount of CA 125 antigen present in the bloodstream, and doctors can prescribe this test for many different reasons. This test is used for:
- Diagnosis: Doctors suggest this test after an imaging test to determine whether the pelvic mass is associated with ovarian cancer.
- Screening of high risk patients: Doctors recommend this test to people who have a high risk of developing ovarian cancer because of hereditary cancer syndrome. However, this test is not used as a screening test in people who are not at high risk of having ovarian cancer.
- Determining the effectiveness of the treatment: This test is used in people who are receiving cancer treatment, which help the doctors to analyze how well you are responding to your ovarian cancer treatment.
- Check for cancer recurrence: This test is also recommended to check for evidence of people who have completed treatment for ovarian cancer.
What does this test measure?
This test measures the volume of CA-125 protein in the bloodstream, which is measured in units per milliliter (U/mL).
What can cause elevated CA-125 levels?
Cancerous and non cancerous, both situations can affect this protein level. Healthy cells of ovaries, breast, pancreas, chest linings and abdomen produce a little amount of Ca-125 protein. However, cancer and other critical conditions affecting these organs may cause inflammation which can raise the CA-125 levels.
Cancerous conditions that can raise the Ca-125 levels include:
- Ovarian cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Fallopian tube cancer
Non Cancerous conditions that can raise the ca-125 levels include:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Uterine fibroids
- Non cancerous ovarian cysts
- Postpartum period
What cancer can this test detect?
This test is not used to detect cancer. Generally, this test is used in the process of diagnosing, monitoring and treatment of ovarian cancer.
Who should get this test?
If your doctor suspects that you may have ovarian cancer, or you are undergoing ovarian cancer treatment then you might require this test for monitoring your condition. This test is also useful for people who are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer. The risk factors are:
- You are a carrier of BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutation
- You have family history of ovarian cancer
- You have had ovarian cancer
Can I get the CA-125 at home?
Yes, you can get a CA-125 test at home, as we offer free home sample collection facilities.
What is the CA-125 test price?
The price of this test may vary depending on the diagnostic centers. We offer the CA-125 test price at Rs.750 only.
What preparations do you need before this test?
Usually this test does not require any preparations such as fasting. However, if you have any existing health condition which requires daily medications, then talk with your doctor for specific instructions. Your doctor may advise to stop certain medication, as certain drugs may alter the testing levels. Also make sure to wear sleeveless or loose upper clothing this will help in the blood collection procedure.
What happens during the sample collection?
This test only requires a blood sample, which will be collected by a medical professional. A needle will be inserted in a vein in your arm, and a blood sample will be collected. Then the blood sample will be sent to the laboratory for testing. The blood collection procedure will take only 5 to 10 minutes. you may also notice a stinging feeling when the needle is inserted.
What may happen after the blood collection?
After the blood collection, a medicated small patch will be placed on the injected area to stop the bleeding. You can remove the bandage after a half or one hour. However, you can get back to daily work after the test. However, if you experience continuous bleeding or dizziness then consult with the doctor immediately.
You might notice light bruising or pain in the injected area, but these symptoms will heal on their own within a day or two. Although infection is very rare, if it occurs then consult your doctor.
When will I get the test report?
You will get the soft copy of the test report within 24-48 business hours.
What will be the interpretation of test results?
You will get the reference range of the tested level mentioned in the test reports. However, as the reference range may vary due to the laboratory, you should consult your doctor for a better understanding of your test results.
Generally, the interpretation of the CA-125 levels depends on the condition of patients, such as:
- If you are tested for analyzing a pelvic mass, an abnormal level may indicate that the pelvic mass is associated with ovarian cancer.
- If you are at a high risk of developing ovarian cancer, then only an abnormal Ca-125 level may not be useful in detecting the presence of the cancer. Your doctor will then prescribe you additional blood tests, imaging tests and biopsy to confirm a diagnosis.
- If you are undergoing ovarian cancer treatment then abnormal test levels may indicate that the treatment is not working, and if it shows low levels then it indicates that treatment is effective for you.
If you receive a positive test report, then your doctor will prescribe you additional tests or may repeat the same test after some days in order to see if the reading of the level changes.
However, a high ca-125 level does not always mean ovarian cancer. There are multiple non cancerous conditions that can cause elevated ca-125 levels, including endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, menstruation and pregnancy.