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Confused - CA125 increased after debulking

Posts: 8
Joined: Dec 2012

My Mom was diagnosed with cancer in November 2012.  Her CA 125 was 5,338 November 24, 2012 after a tumor was discovered in her abdomen from a CT scan.  She had ascites, too, and had 3.5 liters drained (red color).


She had surgery the last week of November and had 95% of the cancer removed and another 4 liters of ascites drained.  The doctor then said he didn't suspect it was ovarian cancer.  He said the ovaries seemed to be secondary.  Based on presentation, he believe it to be peritoneal cancer, which I have learned is treated very similarly to ovarian.  I read in the peritoneal discussion board that some people also post here.


She's had another 3.5 liters of ascites drained December 17, another 4 liters drained December 21, and is scheduled to have it drained again in the morning.


It seems to be filling back up so fast.  Has anyone else had a similar experience with that?  


Her first chemo treatment was Wednesday, December 19.


We learned today that her CA-125 actually increased after surgery.  Her December 18, 2012 labs showed it was 5,427.


We expected it would drop because the doctor said he was able to removed 95% of the cancer.


Any thoughts?


Wishing blessings to all.  This website has been a tremendous help to us as we're trying to educate ourselves enough to even know what questions to ask.


Thank you,





Tethys41's picture
Posts: 1226
Joined: Sep 2010


I'm sorry you and your mom are going through this.  There's no standard, cut and dried pattern with this disease.  I know a woman whose CA-125 was 14,000 prior to debulking, and it didn't change any with the surgery.  Yet, she acheived remission at the end of her first line chemotherapy.  You could literally drive yourself nuts trying to predict what will happen with her treatment, but you just won't know until it happens.  As weak is it may sound, the best thing you can do is put your focus on a positive outcome.  That will give your mom the best support you can offer her.

I experienced repeated accumulation of ascites after my surgery.  It had to be drained every three days for two months.  The doctors will tell you, as they did me, that the chemo will dry up the ascites.  That is the typical pattern, but with me, I later learned, my low protein level was contributing the to production of the fluid.  Make sure your mom gets plenty of protein.  One possibility is whey powder in smooties made with whole coconut milk from a can.  Keep an eye on her albumin protein level.  This is one of the blood tests her doctor will monitor.  The low end of normal is 3.4.  If hers is below that and the ascites does not resolve with chemo, you may want to talk to her doctor about IV nutrition (TPN).  This is what ultimately brought my albumin level back up to normal and cleared up the ascites. 

Hoping things work out well for your mom


Posts: 8
Joined: Dec 2012

I appreciate knowing others have had similar experiences.  That in itself is encouraging!  Tethys41, your response helped me to connect several things that are going on.  For instance, Mom's albumin is 1.9, which is up from 1.7 a month or so ago.  I did get her protein juice drinks from Meijer earlier this week.  15 grams of whey protein, no carbs (she's diabetic), and no sugar.  I'll post the name of these drinks in case anyone else is interested in them.  She doesn't like the texture of the shakes, so we were happy to find these.

Thank you for sharing!  It's been a great help to me!

Wishing you a Happy New Year!



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