What Is a CA 125 Blood Test and Should I Get One?

A CA 125 blood test is a test that screens for ovarian cancer. The name ‘CA 125’ refers to the ‘Cancer Antigen 125’. Antigens are an immune response to problems in the body, and cancer antigen 125 is an immune response specific to ovarian cancer. As such the presence of this antigen can be a strong indicator that cancer is present. Currently it is the best indicator and a serious warning sign for an individual found to have it present in their system.

If you suspect that you have ovarian cancer then, subjecting yourself to a CA 125 blood test is a great way to find out and get a better idea. This can be fairly tricky as symptoms of ovarian cancer are mild and varied. However there are three signs that ovarian cancer may be present that particularly when combined. These are persistent pelvic and/or abdominal pain; abdominal swelling and bloating (persistent rather than bloating that comes and goes); and lack of appetite with the feeling of being full coming more quickly than usual. If you are experiencing these symptoms then you should seek medical attention and your GP might suggest the test. You might also want to get the test if you have a history of ovarian cancer in your family as it is a fairly genetically inherited condition.

However before you go in for the test you should be armed with some knowledge. The CA 125 blood test is just a blood test, requiring the patient to have some of their blood taken. While this means an unpleasant injection, it is hardly invasive and certainly worthwhile. The problem though is the fact that the CA 125 is not 100% accurate, and estimates suggest that perhaps even over half of the findings that come back and suggest the cancer is present are inaccurate. These ‘false positives’ suggest the individual has cancer when they do not. This can then lead to surgery or other invasive procedures, as well as the obvious.

At the same time though, the CA 125 is currently the best way to test for ovarian cancer, and while it poses a risk, that risk might seem less when weighed against the prospect of letting the cancer go unnoticed. Thus, if you have realistic concerns and reasons to suspect you may have ovarian cancer then you should have the test. Consult your doctor for further advice.

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