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Can CA-125 be used to screen asymptomatic women for ovarian cancer?



The Cancer Antigen 125 (CA-125) is a tumor marker or biomarker that is best known as a marker for ovarian cancer, But CA-125 has limited specificity for ovarian cancer because elevated CA-125 levels can be found in individuals without ovarian cancer. Hence this assay, regardless of level, should not be interpreted as absolute evidence for the presence or absence of malignant disease. The assay value should be used in conjunction with findings from clinical evaluation and other diagnostic procedures. This test is not recommended to screen Ovarian cancer in the general population.

The CA-125 is used to monitor therapy during treatment for ovarian cancer. CA-125 is also used to detect relapse of cancer after treatment is complete. It may also be elevated in other malignant cancers, including those originating in the endometrium, Fallopian tubes, lungs, breast and gastrointestinal tract. A number of normal and noncancerous conditions can cause an elevated CA 125 level, including:
  • Endometriosis
  • Liver disease (Cirrhosis, Hepatitis etc)
  • Menstruation
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ovarian Cyst
  • Pancreatitis

Note: If serum CA-125 is more than 35 U/ml, an ultrasound scan of the abdomen and pelvis should be arranged.








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