A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reveals that the CA-125 blood test provides more accurate information on the prognosis of ovarian cancer than results from scans or ultrasound following chemotherapy for progressive disease.
Ovarian cancer is a malignancy that arises from various different cells within the ovaries. Approximately 25,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. Unfortunately ovarian cancer often goes undetected until the disease has progressed into the abdomen or spread to other organs.
Treating ovarian cancer is often difficult, resulting in poor outcomes, which has prompted a great deal of research to identify ways of effectively treating the disease and measuring treatment responses after chemotherapy, surgery or radiation. CA-125 is an antigen found in the blood that is produced in ovarian cancer and is a good indicator of cancer activity. During treatment of ovarian cancer, this marker is often measured to determine if the cancer is being affected by treatment. In addition to the CA-125 blood test, treatment responses are also measured by CT scans or ultrasounds. This study was designed to determine which method provides the best information regarding ovarian cancer outcomes.
In this study, 131 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer who had undergone 2 different cycles of chemotherapy were evaluated with CT scan or ultrasound, as well as with CA-125 blood tests. The CA-125 results were found to be 2.6 times better than the standard results obtained from CT scans or ultrasounds at determining survival, with higher levels associated with poorer survival.
Researchers concluded that this cost-effective test is a good prognostic tool for patients who have undergone second-line treatment for ovarian cancer. Patients with higher levels of CA-125 may seek more aggressive or intensive treatment than their counterparts or may wish to participate in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic approaches.
Reference:Gronlund B, Hogdall C, Hilden J, et al.Should CA-125 response criteria be preferred to response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (RECIST) for prognostication during second-line chemotherapy of ovarian carcinoma? Journal of Clinical
Oncology. Early online publication accessed at: http://www.jco.org/cgi/reprint/JCO.2004.10.028v1.