CA 125 TEST DEFINITION
Cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) is a type of protein in your blood. In turn, a CA 125 test measures the amount of this protein in your blood. It can be used to find out if you have a certain condition or to determine if a particular treatment is working. Certain cancers can cause CA 125 levels to rise as well.
CA 125 TEST PURPOSE
Whenever the levels of CA 125 increase, they may indicate the presence of conditions such as normal menstruation, pregnancy, cirrhosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. It can also indicate the presence or recurrence of ovarian, endometrial, peritoneal, and fallopian tube cancer.
CA 125 TEST RISKS
Lightheadedness, hemorrhaging, and infection are the typical (yet unlikely) risks you'll have to face by having your blood drawn. There's also the risk of your doctor or nurse having difficulty locating a suitable vein because they vary in size from person to person.
Image: CA 125 TEST
CA 125 TEST PREPARATION REQUIRED
You can eat and drink normally before the test if you're only being screened for CA 125. If there are other tests involved, you should observe the preparations for those tests on top of the (lack of) preparation needed for a CA 125 test.
CA 125 TEST PROCEDURE
It's a normal blood test, so as with all blood tests, it entails getting a member of your healthcare team to draw a sample of your blood from your vein, usually the one on your arm. This sample is then sent to a lab for analysis of your CA 125 levels.
CA 125 TEST COMPLICATIONS
Complications from blood drawing include blood accumulation under your skin or hematoma, excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging, lightheadedness or fainting, and infection (which is always a slight risk whenever your skin is penetrated).
CA 125 TEST SIDE EFFECTS
Pain and sensitivity of the penetration site is an expected side effect of having your blood drawn. The throbbing should subside after several hours. However, if this tenderness persists for more than a couple of days, consult your doctor immediately.
CA 125 TEST RESULTS
The normal range for CA 125 that's considered healthy is less than 35 units per millimeter (u/mL). A higher than CA 125 level than normal can mean one of a multitude of things, so your doctor will need context (why he had you go through the test in the first place) and additional data through your health records and other tests to determine a proper diagnosis, especially if that diagnosis involves some form of cancer.