CA 125 cancer marker

Our English cousin has
contributed to research into the use of CA125 for screening healthy women for
ovarian cancer. This is what she wrote:

I have inadvertently been helping the cause of ovarian
cancer prevention over the last seven years as I was invited to join a trial
for early diagnosis. There were three groups: a control group who
did nothing, a blood test group and a third which had a vaginal scan once a
year. I was in the blood test group which meant I gave blood once a
year to ascertain the level of a specific glycoprotein (CA125) which was
compared with a table of probabilities for the presence of cancer. The trial
has now finished but the results are not yet published.

I was fine but the parameters used were tightened up in the
last two years and I had one recall in the sixth year and two in the seventh
year, but was cleared before the end. I spoke with one of the
nurses involved and she explained that the top reading which would ring bells
of alarm was 35 and my highest reading was 17.2. She then went on
to say that a reading under 100 in a test ordered by your GP would not worry
anyone, so I was well reassured.

Thousands of women all over the UK were recruited
through their GP lists – it was quite random and quite amusing when one year
you would meet a neighbour, or even a friend, at the clinic
and realise neither of you had talked about it. The quid pro quo for
one agreeing to take part was that should the test detect a problem
you would be treated immediately. In a way I am sad that it is finished as
that was a nice insurance to have!

I know this will not help you but the fact that something is
being done to try to recognise this disease earlier is good news for us luckier

Thankyou Jane. Yes it
is good news and I find it really heartening!

Yes, CA125 is the test we are regularly given and the magic number is 35 as I
well know. When I was first diagnosed with oc (and had an enormous tumour on my
ovary) my CA125 was 500, then after surgery and after the first chemo dose it
quickly dropped to 53 and subsequently dipped below 35. Then the doctors
cheered. I was reassured every time the results came back because the level
stayed under 35 after that. Now I know how that number was determined – it was
thanks to women like Jane in research trials.

When I experienced this recurrence of the cancer my CA125 was not the
indicator. I explained this in my blog on October 6, 2011. (You can click on
Journal and go back to that date.)

Some other oc patients
I've met had an initial CA125 in the thousands!

The specialists have explained to me that for some women CA125 is not as good
an indicator as for others. I am one of the lucky ones where CA125 really
dropped very fast in response to treatment, so they can be pretty sure that an
elevated CA125 would be a sign of cancer recurrence, even though this time for
me the lymph swelling happened first.

Also, I hear there are several other cancer markers being tested in research
trials around the world, hoping to find more accurate and better ways to detect
oc. However, for now CA125 is the best one.

Anyway, once again a big THANKYOU to cousin Jane for helping !!

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