Serum CA125 elevation and risk of clinical detection of cancer in asymptomatic postmenopausal women

Cancer. 1999 May 1;85(9):2068-72. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0142(19990501)85:9<2068::aid-cncr25>;2-8.


Background: This study was undertaken to assess the correlation between CA125 elevation, a past history of cancer, and future risk of a diagnosis of cancer among asymptomatic postmenopausal women.

Methods: The subjects consisted of a study group of 771 women with elevated CA125 (> or =30 U/mL) and a control group of 771 women with CA125 <30 U/mL. They were selected from a prospective ovarian carcinoma screening trial of 22,000 postmenopausal women followed for a mean of 2269 days.

Results: Subjects in the study group were more likely to have a past history of cancer than subjects in the control group (odds ratio [OR] 2.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.49-3.58). Much of the difference in cancer risk prior to CA125 testing was attributable to a past history of breast carcinoma (OR 2.53, 95% CI 1.45-4.42), but CA125 elevation did not predict recurrence of breast carcinoma. Subjects in the study group were also more likely to develop cancer in the future (OR 2.53, 95% CI 1.61-3.97). This difference was due to an increased risk of gynecologic cancer (OR 30.09, 95% CI 4.09-221.59). CA125 elevation was not associated with an increase in the future risk of developing breast carcinoma (OR 1.19, 95% CI 0.53-2.66) or nongynecologic cancer (OR 1.43, 95% CI 0.86-2.36).

Conclusions: Elevated CA125 in asymptomatic postmenopausal women is not a predictor of nongynecologic cancer or recurrence of cancer, and further investigation should be limited to the detection of gynecologic cancers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • CA-125 Antigen / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Postmenopause / immunology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • CA-125 Antigen