Test Detail
Interpreting Results

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Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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What is CA125?

Cancer Antigen 125 (CA 125) is found in the majority of ovarian cancer cells. Thus, CA 125 is used as a tumor marker. This test measures the levels of CA 125 in the blood. It is done to monitor the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Why is CA125 done?

  • To detect ovarian cancer

  • To monitor the treatment of ovarian cancer

  • To detect recurrence of ovarian cancer

  • To detect lump (mass) in the pelvic area

What does CA125 Measure?

CA 125 is a protein which is present on the surface of the majority of ovarian cancer cells. Thus, women having ovarian cancer will show high levels of CA 125. This test is used to monitor the treatment and recurrence of ovarian cancer.

In women, ovarian cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death. Very few cases of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage because of their non-specific symptoms (not targeting any exact reason). By the time these ovarian cancers are detected, they spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, it is important for women to know family history and symptoms, and go for regular check-ups and pelvic examinations.

Interpreting CA125 results


CA125 < 35.00 U/mL

This reference range is irrespective of age

Reference range may vary from lab to lab*

High levels may be seen in:

  • Ovarian cancers

  • Pregnancy 

  • Menstruation

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Inflammatory diseases of Pelvis

  • Cirrhosis

  • Hepatitis

  • Endometriosis

  • Other tumors such as lung, colorectal, breast, or gastrointestinal tumors

Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about CA125

Frequently Asked Questions about CA125

Q. Is there any preparation required before the test?
Inform the doctor about the medications you may be taking. No other specific preparations are usually required before this test.
Q. How is the blood sample taken?
The healthcare provider takes a blood sample from the arm. The site from where the blood is to be withdrawn is cleaned with a swab of rubbing alcohol. This is then followed by inserting a small needle which has a tube attached to it for collecting blood. Once the sufficient blood for analysis is withdrawn, the needle is removed. The site is then covered with a gauze pad.
Q. Is there any risk associated with the withdrawal of blood sample procedure?
As such there is no risk but in few cases, bruising, bleeding, and infection at the puncture site can be seen. In very few cases, there can be swelling of the vein after the blood is withdrawn.
Q. Are levels of CA125 seen high in all ovarian cancer?
No, in a few cases high levels of CA125 are not seen in ovarian cancer, CA125 is not present on all the ovarian cancer cells.
Q. Is Ca 125 a screening test for ovarian cancer?
No, CA 125 is not a screening test, as it does not show exact reason or symptoms. CA 125 is produced in small amounts in normal tissues and by other cancers as well.
Q. Are there any other non-cancerous conditions where high levels of CA125 can be seen?
Yes, other non-cancerous conditions such as pregnancy, menstruation, and inflammatory disease of the pelvis can show moderately high levels of CA125.
Q. What is pelvic inflammatory disease?
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection which includes the reproductive organs such as fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, and uterus. The symptoms include pain in abdomen, fever, pain while having sex, pain while passing urine, foul-smelling vaginal discharge, and irregular bleeding between periods.
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