CA 15-3 is a protein that is usually found in the breast tissue, and an elevated level of cancer antigen 15.3 indicates the presence of breast cancer. This test has multiple purposes, including determining the efficacy of the cancer treatment and checking evidence of recurring cancer after the treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What is cancer antigen 15.3?
The healthy cells of breast tissue releases CA 15.3, which is a type of protein that is considered as tumor marker. If the breast cells release too much of this protein in the bloodstream which may indicate that you have breast cancer.
What is the CA 15.3 test?
CA 15.3 is known as tumor marker, which is a substance that cancer cells produce in response to cancer. Therefore, if there is a presence of breast cancer, the CA 15.3 level will begin to increase. The CA 15.3 test is done to analyze the levels of CA 15.3 protein in the bloodstream.
This particular test is mainly used to determine the usefulness of cancer treatment, and to detect if there are chances of recurrence of the cancer.
What can cause high levels of CA 15.3?
Aside from breast cancer, other diseases may also be indicated by high levels of this protein. Certain benign or malignant conditions can also cause elevated CA 15.3 levels, such as:
- Benign breast conditions
- Acute hepatitis
- Lung cancer
- Liver cancer
- Liver cirrhosis
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Pancreatic cancer
- Colon cancer
- Prostate cancer
Pregnancy can also cause a high Ca 15.3 level.
When do I need this test?
Although this test can detect the presence of certain conditions, it is not used as a diagnostic or screening test for breast cancer.
You may need this test if you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer and are currently under treatment. This test will help your doctor find out how well you are responding to the cancer treatment. It is also useful to check the recurrences of the cancer, and to determine whether the tumor is spreading to the other body parts.
However, this test may not be helpful in detecting breast cancer in the early stage, only 50% of early cases include elevated CA 15.3 levels.
Is there any alternative test?
Many healthcare professionals prescribe the CA 27.29 test as an alternative test. However, both tests have the same purposes and measure the same protein.
Do I get a CA 15.3 test at home?
Yes, you can get a CA 15.3 test at home as we offer a home sample collection without any extra changes.
What is the CA 15.3 test price?
Many diagnostic centers offer this test at a very high range, but we offer the Ca 15.3 test price at Rs. 750 only.
How is the test done?
This test is similar to a normal blood test. Only a blood sample will be required for the antigen testing, and then the sample will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
Is fasting required for this test?
No, you do not need to do fasting for this test. However, you should consult with your doctor for specific guidance if you have any other health conditions which require daily medications. Your doctor may ask you to stop certain medications, as they might alter the test reports.
According to the Food and Drug administration, biotin supplements which are used to boost hair and nails growth. Healthcare professionals advise stopping this supplement eight hours before the sample collection.
Also, it will be useful if you wear a top that is either sleeveless or can be folded up easily. This is helpful in order to collect the blood sample.
What happens during the test?
A phlebotomist will collect the blood sample through a vein in your. At first an elastic band will be placed on the upper hand, and then your inner elbow will be cleansed with an antiseptic lotion. Then a needle will be inserted in that cleansed area to collect the blood sample. After that the blood sample will be sent to the laboratory for testing.
The whole blood collecting procedure generally takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Also, you may feel a stinging sensation when the needle is inserted.
What may happen after the blood collection?
After the blood collection you may feel dizzy. Also, you notice some bruising and pain in that area where the needle was injected. However, these symptoms will ease away on their own within one or two days.
When will I get the test report?
You will get the test reports within 24 to 48 hours in the form of soft copies.
What does the test results mean?
The CA 15.3 level is usually measured as 30 units per milliliter (U/mL) or less. Test report will include a reference range as well, however, the reference ranges may vary from laboratory to laboratory.
A relatively high level of CA 15.3 may indicate an advanced stage of breast cancer, including metastatic breast cancer where the liver and bones are also involved. High levels of this protein may have different interpretations depending on your condition. An elevated level may indicate that:
- the cancer is spreading to the other blood parts
- your cancer treatment is not working
- cancer is reappearing
Also remember, the Ca 15.3 level can be very high during the first four to six weeks of new cancer treatment. On the other side, decreasing or low levels of Ca 15.3 may indicate that the treatment is working.
However, a person with breast cancer may also have a low to normal Ca 15.3 level as some types of breast cancer do not produce this protein, or the level may not be high enough to get detected.
It is important that you should talk with your doctor for the exact interpretation of your test results. If your test results are abnormal, then your doctor may prescribe you additional tests. If the other test results suggests abnormal, then your doctor may suggest:
- Certain imaging tests (ultrasound, bone scan, PET, and CT)
- Tumor marker tests
- Blood tests to detect hepatitis, liver dysfunction, autoimmune antibodies)
- TB skin test to detect tuberculosis
- Biopsy to check for sarcoidosis
- Cellsearch circulating tumor cells test (CTC test) to monitor metastatic breast cancer
The Ca 15-3 test is useful for people who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, and those who are receiving treatment. This test is not used as a diagnostic or screening test.