Ovarian Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

NCRI Conference: Early Testing for Levels of CA125 in Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer

By: Joseph Cupolo
Posted: Monday, November 11, 2019

Testing for levels of CA125 may be useful in determining the likelihood of ovarian cancer. Although the CA125 assay is already in use among oncologists worldwide, this is reportedly the first large study to look at how well it performs in general practice for testing women who have possible symptoms of ovarian cancer. These research findings were presented at the 2019 National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Glasgow, Scotland (Abstracts 2931 and 2935).

Garth Funston, BSc, MB, BChir, a clinical research fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK, and colleagues analyzed data on 50,780 women with possible signs of ovarian cancer, such as persistent bloating or abdominal pain. They compared the results of these women’s CA125 blood tests with data from women diagnosed with ovarian cancer or another type of cancer in the 12 months after the blood test.

The investigators discovered that 10% of women who had an abnormally high level of CA125 in their blood were found to have ovarian cancer. This figure is much higher than previously thought, they noted, and 10 times higher than the estimate given in the UK’s 2011 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines on ovarian cancer diagnosis.

“Our results can be used by doctors to determine the chance of a woman in general practice having ovarian cancer based on the CA125 level,” Dr. Funston stated in an NCRI press release. “This could help guide decisions made by general practitioners and their patients about the need for further investigation or referral.”

Shibani Nicum, MD, Chair of NCRI’s Ovarian Cancer Subgroup and consultant medical oncologist at Oxford University Hospitals, commented about these study findings in an NCRI press release: “Diagnosing more cases of ovarian cancer at an early stage could have a big impact on survival, and general practitioners are an essential part of that process.”

Disclosure: Visit ncri.org.uk for disclosure information on the study authors.

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