May 27, 2001 - 11:33 am
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the CA-125 Test
from OVARIAN PLUS INTERNATIONAL Newsletter
What is a CA-125 test?
CA-125 is a test done on a blood sample drawn in a laboratory. The assay (analysis) assesses the amount of an
What does the test entail?
A blood sample is drawn, just as for a variety of other laboratory tests.
What are the statistics of its accuracy/inaccuracy?
Slightly over 80 percent of women who have ovarian cancer will have an elevated CA-125 in the liquid portion of
Three other scenarios that can occur with any lab test must be mentioned:
- False positive. The rate of "false positives" with CA-125 makes it inadequate for use BY ITSELF for screening
Premenopausal women are more likely than postmenopausal women to receive a "false positive" CA-125. This
-- False negative. In CA-125, the rate of "false negatives" also makes it important to use the test as part of a
-- True negative. As indicated above, repeating the test to observe a trend is an important new way of using
What does it mean when it's elevated?
Especially in premenopausal women, elevated CA-125 can mean any of several benign conditions, or a "false
What does it mean when it's NOT elevated?
A physician specifically experienced in the interpretation of CA-125 results can best assess this for the individual
* The wise consumer has the test repeated several times if there is any doubt about her symptoms or diagnosis
* If CA-125 is "negative" (not elevated) repeatedly, and no symptoms are present, and no significant risk factors
* CAUTION! Almost 20 percent of women who have ovarian cancer do not ever have elevated CA-125. That is
What's the difference between an CA-125 and CA-125II? Are they interchangeable?
CA125II is a new assay that has less variation from day to day. Since the original CA-125 ("first generation") test
** CA-125 and CA-125II ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE !
"The precise value obtained... may differ, but the trend using each assay over time should be quite similar."
Your CA-125II results may be several points higher than your old CA-125 result was.
What else should I know?
Insist that your health professional and laboratory provide you the following crucial information about your CA-125
1.] The generation of the test (CA-125 II, or was it CA-125 first generation?).
2.} The name of the manufacturer of the assay (example: Abbott, or Centocor)
3.] The type of assay used (example: radioimmunoassay, sandwich method).
4.] Your result
NOTE: In the recent past, different manufacturers' assays sometimes provided different results...a potentially