• CA-125 Testing

    Asked by SarahPants on Saturday, February 11, 2012

    CA-125 Testing

    Hi Ladies- My doctor has stated that he doesn't believe in CA-125 testing and that it wouldn't matter if I took the blood tests or not. He says it's not a good indicator of weather or not the cancer is there/returned. I've read mixed things about it online. Should I insist on getting the test done for monitoring purposes? What opinions do you guys have on this one?

    9 Answers from the Community

    9 answers
    • saltermd's Avatar

      Could you be more specific as to the cancer in question, stage of disease at diagnosis, treatments, and current stage ? Are you currently in remission ? There is tremendous controversy surrounding the use of serum tumor markers in some settings.

      about 6 years ago
    • Cindy's Avatar

      Yes, I would recommend getting it done to monitor your ovarian cancer especially if your CA-125 was elevated when you were diagnosed. There are a lot of false positives and negatives with the test which is why it is not used alone for diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Not everyone who has ovarian cancer has an elevated CA-125 levels. My doctor believes in using the CA-125 test as an indicator of my Ovarian cancer going away or coming back. My CA-125 level was 430 when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer (stage 2). It went down to 43 after my cancer surgery. Normal is less than 36. I had a CT/PET scan after my surgery which showed no evidence of cancer. My doctor had me take the CA-125 test monthly during my chemo treatments as an indicator of whether the chemo treatments were working or not. My CA-125 levels kept coming down. My doctor was pleased and said that it was an indication that the chemo treatments were working. He said that those whose levels get below 10 have a better chance of a cure. I have continued getting CA-125 tests done every 1 to 2 months after my last chemo treatment (Mar 17, 2011) to catch any jumps. If the CA-125 jumped more than 10 points he said he would be concerned. In November it was <5 (no trace). Last December it jumped to 14 and he requested that I get another test done. He said if it continued to jump sharply it could be an indicator that the cancer was coming back and he would want to do a PET/CT scan to check. I took the test again in January and it went up a little to 16. I took it again 2 weeks ago and it was down to 9. My next doctor appointment is Wednesday. I am sure he will be pleased with this result.

      about 6 years ago
    • Naturegirl's Avatar

      I have endometrial cancer that recurred last April, the tumor is in a location that is presently not operable. I am in a clinical trial presently. My ca125 last month was tested and it came up 5. This test obviously is not a marker for me.

      about 6 years ago
    • derbygirl's Avatar

      I was diagnosed with Stage 1b Ovarian Cancer 4 years ago. Since that time, both my Oncologist and my ObGyn have insisted that I not only have a CA-125 but also a CA 19-9 and a CEA done every 3 months until 5 years have passed and then they said they would reevaluate how often these are done. On top of the bloodwork I have ultrasounds and CAT scans and exams every 3 months. If anything, having these done gives me piece of mind. In fact my ObGyn has me come to his office to get the bloodwork done because he runs the tests in his office right away so I have the results by the end of the day. They may be a little overprotective but I'd rather have proactive care as opposed to doctors who hesitate.

      I would talk to your physician on this subject and have him explain more about his feelings on this testing. I have worked in the medical field for a long time and one thing I do know is you can always find doctors with differing opinions on care and treatment but all with the best intentions. Tell him your feelings and see if the two of you can decide the best course of action. As a patient you do have the right to a second opinion but I would first find out what your doctor feels is the proper course of treatment for you. Doctors care for patients based on their knowledge of the patients medical history so your doctor may have other options or methods of treatment for you. Open communication with your physician is vital so please talk to him and ask questions. In fact I always tell our patients to write their questions down before coming to the office. At the office patients tend to forget to ask things and often leave without all the facts. This way if the doctor does not have time to answer the questions during the visit, they can look over them and answer them and send the patient their list back with all their questions answered.

      Anyway I probably gave you more than you asked but I hope I helped. Take care and remember that there are others going through the same thing and we are all here for each other.

      about 6 years ago
    • judalou's Avatar

      I have stage 4 ovarian cancer because my Dr didn't believe in CA125. I warned of strong family history years ago. One day I insisted on test. Result was 3500. Have had 3 rounds of chemo...CA125 is now down to 100. Unsure of what this means because the surgery was unsucessful. Too much in there & attached to other organs. Calcified omentum cake....Sounds like they should have used a hammer. Now facing more chemo. Oncologist told me "ovarian cancer has decorated my insides but it doesn't "enter" other organs. What is the truth???

      about 6 years ago
    • StephMooneyham's Avatar

      I would demand to have it done. I think it doesn't matter what your doctor's personal feelings are about a certain test--a procedure maybe, but not a simple blood test. If you feel certain testing should be done, you have to make them do so because it's your life at stake. I know not everyone will have elevated levels, but in my experience, the CA-125 test is very useful in detecting cancer. During my regular checkups while I was in remission, my CA-125 levels usually stayed around a 5. When the doctors discovered my ovarian cancer had returned last month (and had spread to multiple places, no less), my levels had gone up to 110. The CA-125 test can definitely give you a heads-up that cancer is present.

      about 6 years ago
    • judalou's Avatar

      An update on the CA125 results...Latest number 2 weeks ago is "33", I'm very relieved and as a result of this testing a new surgery date has been set for Aug 2nd. My first question for my "new primary care physician" was his belief in using this marker for his patients. His reply was "women with your family history should have CA 125 twice a year." If only I had found him sooner. He's a keeper as they say...

      almost 6 years ago
    • DonnaJenkins' Avatar

      My oncologist and surgeon believe in CA 125. It is a blood marker to show if your cancer is less in your body. The goal is to have a number below 35 depending upon the lab.

      over 5 years ago
    • coopcrew's Avatar

      CA- 125 can be a good indicator if ovarian cancer is recurring, but research has shown that there may be a 4-6 month gap between the rise in CA-125 and the onset of symptoms. Also current research shows that early intervention due to rising CA-125 is not as effective in overall survival than waiting to treat until symptoms develop. That is why some gyn-onc are rethinking the value of CA-125 monitoring. However, you have the right to decide if you want the test or not. Knowing that you are at the start of a recurrence due to rising CA-125 may help you be more vigilant in looking for symptoms. If you are having check-ups every 3 months, you may want to have a CA-125 just for your own peace of mind.

      over 5 years ago

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