CA-125 Blood Test (Ovarian Cancer)

This test measures the amount of a protein called CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) in a sample of your blood. CA-125 is a type of tumor marker. High levels of certain tumor markers in your blood may be a sign of cancer. If you have cancer, measuring certain tumor markers may help provide important information about how to treat your disease.

High levels of CA-125 are often found in people who have ovarian cancer. The ovaries are a pair of female reproductive glands that store ova (eggs) and make female hormones. Ovarian cancer happens when the cells in an ovary begin to grow out of control.

If you have ovarian cancer, CA-125 blood tests can help show whether your treatment is working.

Other names: cancer antigen 125, glycoprotein antigen, ovarian cancer antigen, CA-125 tumor marker

What is it used for?

A CA-125 blood test may be used:

To see if ovarian cancer treatment is working and to check for ovarian cancer that has come back.This is the most common use of CA-125 blood testing.

To learn more about a growth or lump in your pelvis (the area below your belly).If a suspicious lump shows up on imaging, such as an ultrasound, your health care provider may check your CA-125 levels along with other tests to find out whether the lump could be ovarian cancer. But a CA-125 blood test alone can’t diagnose cancer.

To screen for ovarian cancer if you’re risk is very high. If your family health history includes ovarian cancer, your provider may suggest a CA-125 blood test and other tests to look for signs of cancer. But a CA-125 test is not used as a routine screening test for people who don’t have a high risk for ovarian cancer. That’s because many common conditions that aren’t cancer can also cause high CA-125 levels, such as endometriosis or even a menstrual period.

Why do I need a CA-125 blood test?

If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may have several CA-125 blood tests:

During your treatment to see if your cancer is going away. If CA-125 levels go down, it usually means your treatment is working

After your treatment, to check whether your cancer has returned

If you have a lump in your pelvis that could be ovarian cancer, you may need a CA-125 test to help find out if it could be ovarian cancer. But only a biopsy can diagnose ovarian cancer.

If you have a very high risk of getting ovarian cancer, your health care provider may suggest checking your CA-125 levels. If they’re high, you’ll probably need more tests to find out if you have cancer. You’re more likely to get ovarian cancer if you:

Have a mother or sister, or two or more other relatives who had ovarian cancer

Have family members who have had breast cancer or colorectal cancer (colon cancer)

Have inherited certain gene changes or conditions that increase your risk of ovarian cancer, such as:

Changes in your genes, including BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 genes

Lynch syndrome(also called hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer), an inherited disorder that increases the risk for many types of cancer

Have had breast, uterine(uterus), or colorectal cancer

If you’re concerned about getting ovarian cancer, talk with your provider about your risk.

What happens during a CA-125 blood test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

What do the results mean?

Your provider will review your CA-125 test results along with other information about your condition. Together, you can discuss how your results affect your diagnosis, treatment, and need for more testing.

In general:

If you are being treated for ovarian cancer, and the results of several tests show that your CA-125 levels are going down, it usually means that the treatment is helping. If your levels go up or stay the same over time, it may mean that the treatment isn’t working.

If you have finished your treatment for ovarian cancerand your CA-125 levels begin to increase over time, your cancer may be coming back.

If you have a high risk for ovarian cancer or have a suspicious pelvic lump, a high CA-125 levels could be a sign of cancer. Your provider will usually order more tests to make a diagnosis.

A high CA-125 level doesn’t always mean cancer. Other conditions may increase CA-125, including:

Endometriosis

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Uterine fibroids

Liver disease

Pregnancy

Your menstrual period, at certain times during your cycle

A normal CA-125 test result doesn’t rule out ovarian cancer. That’s because CA-125 levels may be low in the early stages of cancer. And not everyone with ovarian cancer makes high levels of CA-125.

Talk with your provider if you have questions about your results.

Is there anything else I need to know about a CA-125 blood test?

The most common type of ovarian cancer is epithelial ovarian cancer. If you have been treated for this type of cancer, you may be tested for a tumor marker called HE4 along with CA-125. Some studies show that measuring both tumor markers provides more accurate information to check whether treatment is working and to look for the return of this type of cancer.

Prothrombin Time Test and INR

This test measures how long it takes for a clot to form in a blood sample. An INR (international normalized ratio) is a type of calculation based on PT (Prothrombin Time) test results.

Prothrombin is a protein made by the liver. It is one of several substances known as clotting (coagulation) factors. When you get a cut or other injury that causes bleeding, your clotting factors work together to form a blood clot. How fast your blood clots depends on the amount of clotting factors in your blood and whether they’re working correctly. If your blood clots too slowly, you may bleed too much after an injury. If your blood clots too fast, dangerous clots may form in your arteries or veins.

A PT/INR test helps diagnose the cause of bleeding or clotting disorders. It also checks to see if a medicine that prevents blood clots is working the way it should.

Other names: prothrombin time/international normalized ratio, PT protime

What is it used for?

A PT/INR test is most often used to:

See how well warfarin is working. Warfarin is a blood-thinning medicinethat’s used to treat and prevent dangerous blood clots. (Coumadin is a common brand name for warfarin.)

Find out the reason for abnormal blood clots

Find out the reason for unusual bleeding

Check clotting function before surgery

Check for liver problems

A PT/INR test is often done along with a partial thromboplastin time (PTT) test. A PTT test also checks for clotting problems.

Why do I need a PT/INR test?

You may need this test if you are taking warfarin on a regular basis. The test helps make sure you are taking the right dose.

If you are not taking warfarin, you may need this test if you have symptoms of a bleeding or clotting disorder.

Symptoms of a bleeding disorder include:

Unexplained heavy bleeding

Bruising easily

Unusually heavy nose bleeds

Unusually heavy menstrual periods in women

Symptoms of a clotting disorder include:

Leg pain or tenderness

Leg swelling

Redness or red streaks on the legs

Trouble breathing

Cough

Chest pain

Rapid heartbeat

In addition, you may need a PT/INR test if you are scheduled for surgery. It helps make sure your blood is clotting normally, so you won’t lose too much blood during the procedure.

What happens during a PT/INR test?

The test may be done on a blood sample from a vein or a fingertip.

For a blood sample from a vein:

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

What do the results mean?

If you were tested because you are taking warfarin, your results will probably be in the form of INR levels. INR levels are often used because they make it easier to compare results from different labs and different test methods. If you are not taking warfarin, your results may be in the form of INR levels or the number of seconds it takes for your blood sample to clot (prothrombin time).

If you are taking warfarin:

  • INR levels that are too low may mean you are at risk for dangerous blood clots.
  • INR levels that are too high may mean you are at risk for dangerous bleeding.

Your health care provider will probably change your dose of warfarin to reduce these risks.

If you are not taking warfarin and your INR or prothrombin time results were not normal, it may mean one of the following conditions:

A bleeding disorder, a condition in which the body can’t clot blood properly, causing excessive bleeding

A clotting disorder, a condition in which the body forms excessive clots in arteries or veins

Liver disease

Vitamin K Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting.

Is there anything else I need to know about a PT/INR test?

Sometimes certain liver tests are ordered along with a PT/INR test. These include:

Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)

 

 

C-Reactive Protein (CRP)

This measures the level of c-reactive protein (CRP) in a sample of your blood. CRP is a protein that your liver makes. Normally, you have low levels of c-reactive protein in your blood. In cases of Inflammation, your liver releases more CRP into your bloodstream. High levels of CRP may mean you have a serious health condition that causes inflammation.

Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues and helping them heal from an injury, infection, or other disease. Inflammation can be acute (sudden) and temporary. This type of inflammation is usually helpful. For example, if you cut your skin, it may turn red, swell, and hurt for a few days. Those are signs of inflammation. Inflammation can also happen inside your body.

If inflammation lasts too long, it can damage healthy tissues. This is called chronic (long-term) inflammation. Chronic infections, certain autoimmune disorders, and other diseases can cause harmful chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can also happen if your tissues are repeatedly injured or irritated, for example from smoking or chemicals in the environment.

A CRP test can show whether you have inflammation in your body and how much. But the test can’t show what’s causing the inflammation or which part of your body is inflamed.

Other names: c-reactive protein, serum

What is it used for?

A CRP test may be used to help find or monitor inflammation in acute or chronic conditions, including:

Infections from bacteria or viruses

Inflammatory bowel disease, disorders of the intestines that include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and vasculitis

Lung diseases, such as asthma

Your health care provider may use a CRP test to see if treatments for chronic inflammation are working or to make treatment decisions if you have sepsis. Sepsis is your body’s extreme response to an infection that spreads to your blood. It’s a life-threatening medical emergency.

Why do I need a CRP test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of a bacterial infection, such as:

Fever or chills

Rapid heart rate

Rapid breathing

Nausea and vomiting

You may also need a CRP test if your provider thinks you may have a chronic condition that causes inflammation. The symptoms will depend on the condition.

If you’ve already been diagnosed with an infection or a chronic disease that causes inflammation, you may need this test to monitor your condition and treatment. CRP levels rise and fall depending on how much inflammation is in your body. If your CRP levels fall, it’s a sign that your treatment for inflammation is working or you’re healing on your own.

What happens during a CRP test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This process usually takes less than five minutes.

What do the results mean?

Your CRP test results tell you how much inflammation you have in your body. But your test results can’t tell you what’s causing the inflammation. To make a diagnosis, your provider will look at your CRP results along with the results of other tests, your symptoms, and medical history.

In general, healthy people have very low amounts of CRP in their blood. Any increases above normal mean you have inflammation in your body. But labs measure CRP levels in different ways, and they define “normal” CRP ranges differently, so it’s best to ask your provider what your results mean.

Is there anything else I need to know about a CRP test?

A CRP test is sometimes confused with a high-sensitivity-(hs) CRP test. They both measure CRP, but they are used for different conditions. An hs-CRP test measures very tiny increases in your CRP levels. It is used to estimate your risk of heart disease.

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