CA 125 in biological fluids

Int J Biol Markers. 1998 Oct-Dec;13(4):224-30. doi: 10.1177/172460089801300410.


CA 125 is not a specific tumor marker, and is synthesized by normal and malignant cells of different origin (mainly in tissues derived from the müllerian epithelia) in a similar proportion. Abnormal CA 125 levels may be found in fluids of different origin (ascites, pleura, pericardium, amniotic fluid, cyst fluid, bronchoalveolar fluid, etc.) and in serum from patients with these fluids. Differences in serum CA 125 found in malignant or benign diseases may be related to the number of cells that synthesize the marker, and are highly dependent on the access to serum, where the marker is normally determined. Moreover, CA 125 is a very good tumor marker in ovarian and lung cancer. The sensitivity of CA 125 in ovarian cancer is related to stage (40-95%), histological type (lower levels in mucinous adenocarcinoma), and the marker is useful in the early detection of recurrence (sensitivity 80%) and in therapy monitoring. It's sensitivity in lung cancer is lower than in ovarian cancer, 39% in locoregional malignancies and 69% in metastatic disease, but clearly related to stage and histology (mainly in adenocarcinomas and large cell lung cancer) and it is useful in prognosis and disease monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Body Fluids / chemistry*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry
  • CA-125 Antigen / analysis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CA-125 Antigen