Blog: A do-it-yourself treatment program for cancer survivors
March 22, 2011
Blog: Hair, Glorious Hair
March 22, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Words of Wisdom
March 21, 2011
Chilling Hair News
March 21, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Videos from Yoga Bear
March 21, 2011
JourneyForward.org
March 16, 2011 – Elizabeth Whittington
Herb Could Work Against Advanced Breast Cancer
March 16, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Transplants More Effective for Young Adults with AML
March 15, 2011 – Elizabeth Whittington
Predicting Colorectal Cancer Recurrence
March 15, 2011 – Elizabeth Whittington
Yoga by Any Other Name
March 03, 2011
Cancer: The Change I Cherish
March 11, 2011
CA-125: What the Numbers Tell Us
March 03, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Origins of Ovarian Cancer
March 03, 2011 – Renée Twombly
A Primer on How Faster Approval Works
March 03, 2011 – Mike King
Reclaim Your Brain
March 03, 2011 – Staff Reports
The Legal Side of Chemobrain
March 03, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Mining Cancer Data in the Molecular Age
March 03, 2011 – Mike King
Expecting the Unexpected
March 03, 2011 – Don Vaughan
Bending the Rules
March 03, 2011 – Claudia M. Caruana
Sifting
March 03, 2011 – Janet Filips
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
March 03, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Q & A: Medicare and Advance Care Planning
March 03, 2011 – Len Lichtenfeld, MD
Know Your Rights
March 03, 2011
Favre Visits Pediatric Patient
March 03, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Jumping on the Ban Wagon
March 03, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Pipeline
March 03, 2011 – Staff Reports
The Fragile Bonds of Cancer
March 02, 2011 – Richard C. Frank
The Machine and Me
March 02, 2011 – Ginny Vroblesky
A Mouth Full
March 02, 2011 – Lacey Meyer
Overhauling Clinical Trials
March 02, 2011 – Laura Beil
Hitting Hard-to-Treat Cancers
March 02, 2011 – Mike King
Fighting Back
March 02, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Letters From Our Readers
March 14, 2011
What is the Benefit, Precisely?
March 02, 2011 – Debu Tripathy, MD
Breaking Out of the Silence
March 02, 2011 – Renée Twombly
Hurdles on the Faster Track
March 02, 2011 – Mike King
Lifting the Fog on Chemobrain
March 02, 2011 – Elaine Schattner, MD
Blog: A do-it-yourself treatment program for cancer survivors
March 22, 2011
Blog: Hair, Glorious Hair
March 22, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Words of Wisdom
March 21, 2011
Chilling Hair News
March 21, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Videos from Yoga Bear
March 21, 2011
JourneyForward.org
March 16, 2011 – Elizabeth Whittington
Herb Could Work Against Advanced Breast Cancer
March 16, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Transplants More Effective for Young Adults with AML
March 15, 2011 – Elizabeth Whittington
Predicting Colorectal Cancer Recurrence
March 15, 2011 – Elizabeth Whittington
Yoga by Any Other Name
March 03, 2011
Cancer: The Change I Cherish
March 11, 2011
Currently Viewing
CA-125: What the Numbers Tell Us
March 03, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
A Primer on How Faster Approval Works
March 03, 2011 – Mike King
Reclaim Your Brain
March 03, 2011 – Staff Reports
The Legal Side of Chemobrain
March 03, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Mining Cancer Data in the Molecular Age
March 03, 2011 – Mike King
Expecting the Unexpected
March 03, 2011 – Don Vaughan
Bending the Rules
March 03, 2011 – Claudia M. Caruana
Sifting
March 03, 2011 – Janet Filips
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
March 03, 2011 – Kathy LaTour
Q & A: Medicare and Advance Care Planning
March 03, 2011 – Len Lichtenfeld, MD
Know Your Rights
March 03, 2011
Favre Visits Pediatric Patient
March 03, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Jumping on the Ban Wagon
March 03, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Pipeline
March 03, 2011 – Staff Reports
The Fragile Bonds of Cancer
March 02, 2011 – Richard C. Frank
The Machine and Me
March 02, 2011 – Ginny Vroblesky
A Mouth Full
March 02, 2011 – Lacey Meyer
Overhauling Clinical Trials
March 02, 2011 – Laura Beil
Hitting Hard-to-Treat Cancers
March 02, 2011 – Mike King
Fighting Back
March 02, 2011 – Lindsay Ray
Letters From Our Readers
March 14, 2011
What is the Benefit, Precisely?
March 02, 2011 – Debu Tripathy, MD
Breaking Out of the Silence
March 02, 2011 – Renée Twombly
Hurdles on the Faster Track
March 02, 2011 – Mike King
Lifting the Fog on Chemobrain
March 02, 2011 – Elaine Schattner, MD

CA-125: What the Numbers Tell Us

Researchers are looking for effective screening methods for ovarian cancer.

BY Lindsay Ray
PUBLISHED March 03, 2011

More than 80 percent of ovarian cancers are found after they spread, which is why researchers are looking for a way to effectively screen for ovarian cancer. Many of them are looking at one biomarker in particular, CA-125.

CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) is a protein produced on the surface of cells that then circulates in the blood. High amounts of CA-125 in the blood (generally more than 35 units per mL) could be a sign of ovarian cancer. If someone has symptoms related to ovarian cancer, such as bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, the test can be one of the first steps to check for the disease. Physicians also look at CA-125 levels to determine if the cancer is responding to chemotherapy and to monitor for recurrence.  

However, this biomarker test is imperfect. Elevated CA-125 levels can be caused by a variety of other factors, such as pregnancy, menstruation, endometriosis and other types of cancer. These “false-positive” results can lead to unnecessary tests or procedures (such as invasive surgery). There are also “false-negatives” associated with the test—about 20 percent of women with ovarian cancer don’t have elevated CA-125 levels. And the test particularly lacks specificity in premenopausal women.

Due to the test’s inaccuracy, widespread screening for ovarian cancer isn’t recommended. Furthermore, a study, published online Dec. 13 in Cancer, found only a slight benefit in widespread screening. By using a model to examine data in the National Institute of Health’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, researchers found that annual screening in postmenopausal women would reduce mortality from ovarian cancer by 10.9 to 14.7 percent.

Despite these findings, researchers continue to look for ways to improve the CA-125 test and how it can be combined with other methods for more effective screening. In a study presented at the annual meeting of ASCO, researchers used an algorithm in conjunction with CA-125 tests to screen for ovarian cancer. The formula calculates a woman’s risk for the disease based on her age, baseline CA-125 level and subsequent annual CA-125 tests, so it measures not just the CA-125 level, but the rate of change over time. 

Investigators followed 3,238 women at average risk for ovarian cancer for up to nine years and reported that no invasive cancers were missed by this screening method. Of the eight women who had surgery, five were diagnosed at early stage and three had benign lesions. Before a change in practice can occur, follow-up studies will be needed to confirm results. Meanwhile, an ongoing trial in the U.K. is examining this method of screening in more than 200,000 women and expects to release results in 2015. If the results are similar to the U.S. study, then it may mean a screening strategy for ovarian cancer is one step closer to being developed.

Be the first to discuss this article on CURE's forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Ovarian Cancer CURE discussion group.

Related Articles

1
×

Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!
×

Sign Up

Are you a member? Please Log In