As for the CA-125 test
, levels of this marker can be elevated for other reasons, including many benign gynecologic conditions.
Unfortunately the CA-125 test
has not proven effective for ovarian cancer screening in asymptomatic women.
In reaching its decision, the USPSTF reviewed studies that have been conducted since its earlier recommendation and found that ovarian cancer screening using transvaginal ultrasound and a CA-125 test
(see box) doesn't reduce the number of deaths from the disease.
The CA-125 test
is often elevated in ovarian cancer, a finding that led to considering use of the test for ovarian cancer screening.
3) The CA-125 test
only returns a true positive result for about 50% of Stage I ovarian cancer patients.
However, current recommendations suggest screening women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations with a CA-125 test
coupled with a transvaginal ultrasound every six to 12 months beginning between age 25 and 35.
The CA-125 test
can detect rising levels of this protein and is typically used to see if ovarian cancer has come back.
But don't bet your life on this when the CA-125 test
is so readily available.
The disadvantages of using the CA-125 test
as a screening tool are its lack of specificity and its inability to detect early cancers.
While one marker of ovarian cancer--the antigen CA-125--has been found, screening the public at large has not been recommended, since the poor specificity of the CA-125 test
, combined with the cancer's low prevalence, would result in a high rate of false positives.
The most commonly used test, the CA-125 test
, detects levels of a protein on the surface of many cancer cells.