Normal CA-125 with Recurrence

Last Modified: July 30, 2006

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Have you heard of anyone getting a recurrence [of ovarian cancer] despite having normal serum levels of CA-125? In other words, is the following possible: a patient has an elevated CA-125 before initial surgery, goes through treatment and the CA-125 decreases to normal, and then the patient gets a recurrence while the CA-125 stays in the normal range?

Answer

Stephen C. Rubin, MD, Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Pennsylvania Health System, responds:

CA-125 is usually the earliest indicator of disease recurrence in patients who had an elevated value initially, before treatment. It is therefore very unusual for recurrence to take place in the absence of an increased CA-125, although it can happen occasionally.

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