Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the differential diagnostic potential of a combination of CA 125, CA 15-3, and CA 72-4 antigens in the definition of malignant disease, especially ovarian carcinoma in patients with a pelvic mass.
Study design: A total of 412 patients were evaluated in a multicenter, retrospective study.
Results: Two hundred twenty-six malignant, 171 benign pelvic tumors (of which 129 were benign ovarian tumors), and 15 borderline tumors were evaluated. One hundred thirty-three patients had ovarian carcinoma. In 76 cases (55%), the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stage was III or IV. Borderline tumors (n = 15) were excluded from the statistical calculations. CA 125 antigen was the most sensitive marker for ovarian carcinoma (81%). The highest specificity and positive predictive value was obtained with CA 15-3 antigen (95% and 92%, respectively). Considering a concomitant elevation of all 3 markers as positive, a positive predictive value of 97% was found. However, only 28% of the patients in the total group and 41% of the patients with ovarian carcinoma had a concomitant elevation of all 3 markers. The combination of all 3 markers with levels below the cut-off resulted in a (false-positive) positive predictive value for malignancy between 12% and 36%. With the use of logistic regression analysis, we found a correct prediction in 73% of the cases. CA 15-3 antigen makes the most significant (P <.0001) contribution to the logistic model in the prediction of malignancy in the total group, with all pelvic masses with an odds ratio of 3.86.
Conclusion: The combination of a simultaneous elevated level of CA 125, CA 15-3, and CA 72-4 antigens was predictive for malignant disease in almost all cases. However, such concomitant elevation was found in few of the malignant masses. Logistic regression analysis revealed that CA 15-3 antigen makes the most significant contribution to a model for the prediction of malignancy in the total group. The logistic model gave a correct prediction in 73% to 83%. The present tumor marker panel seems inferior to combinations with other test modalities, which include ultrasonography and/or physical examination and/or menopausal status or age.