Background: Cancer antigen (CA) 125 tumor-associated antigen is a high molecular glycoprotein used for follow-up of epithelial ovarian cancer. The test is often requested as a differential diagnosis in patients with pleural or peritoneal fluid. This study analyzes the prevalence of CA-125 increases in a population of patients attending a general hospital and discusses the possible clinical implications of increased levels.
Methods: On 4 different days, 380 CA-125 assays were performed in randomly selected patients attending our hospital. Serum CA-125 was measured with a commercial enzyme immunoassay, and clinical records were reviewed for assessment of clinical parameters.
Results: Sixty-one patients (16%) had increased CA-125. The pathologies of these patients were heart failure in 9 (14.7%), lung disease 11 (18%), hepatic cirrhosis in 7 (11.4%), malignant tumors in 9 (14.7%), intra-abdominal nonhepatic disease in 6 (10%), previous surgery in 17 (27.8%), and miscellaneous in 2 (3%). Effusions were seen in 34 patients (55.7%).
Conclusions: Our data confirm the variety of benign and malignant pathologies coursing with increased CA-125. Cardiovascular and chronic liver disease were the most frequent diagnoses in patients with increased CA-125; this supports the opinion that CA-125 lacks utility as a marker for malignancy. CA-125 could have a role in the follow-up of cardiovascular, hepatic, and tumoral diseases with serosal involvement.