Elevated serum concentrations of CA-125 in patients with advanced endometriosis

Fertil Steril. 1986 May;45(5):630-4. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)49333-7.


CA-125 is a high-molecular-weight glycoprotein that is expressed on the cell surface of some derivatives of embryonic coelomic epithelium. Based on results of an immunoradiometric assay developed to detect CA-125 in peripheral blood, 82% of patients with ovarian cancer and less than 1% of apparently healthy controls have elevated peripheral blood levels of CA-125. Because endometriotic lesions are likely to be derivatives of embryonic coelomic epithelium, the authors investigated serum CA-125 levels in patients with endometriosis. Preoperative serum CA-125 concentrations were measured in 147 patients undergoing diagnostic laparoscopy or laparotomy. Serum CA-125 concentrations were elevated in patients with stage III or IV endometriosis, compared with controls with negative diagnostic laparoscopies (66.5 +/- 14.5 versus 8.20 +/- 0.59 U/ml, mean +/- standard error of the mean; P less than 0.001). Fifty-four percent of patients with stage III or IV endometriosis and 0% of the controls had CA-125 levels greater than 35 U/ml. Occasional patients with stage II endometriosis (13%), leiomyomata uteri (14%), and chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (5%) also had serum CA-125 concentrations greater than 35 U/ml. Immunocytochemical techniques demonstrated the presence of CA-125 on the cell surface of endometriotic lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / analysis*
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate
  • Chronic Disease
  • Endometriosis / immunology*
  • Endometriosis / pathology
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Leiomyoma / immunology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / immunology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / immunology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Antigens, Tumor-Associated, Carbohydrate