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CA-125 level trends - what to expect

HI everyone, i know this sounds like a really obscure question but does anyone know the expected trend in the decline of ca125 levels during treatment? i know they aren't a reliable marker but i'm just curious. my mum has OV/C stage 3c she had ca levels around 400 when she was diagnosed, she saw a gradual decline in the numbers since. she's on her 5th chemo session so she's now nearing the end of treatment thank god, last chemo she was 29 and this chemo that she had a few days ago she was only 27. it hasn't dropped much. the doctor just said its under 35 so it's a normal healthy level and it's likely to just stay stable at that level now. but i'm just wondering what it means. i've head of people having markers in the1000's and then after surgery it rapidly drops to as low as 6/5. is there a difference between patients who drop to lower numbers rapidly?

sorry again for how pedantic this question sounds haha!

7 Replies

Hi !

Your question doesn't sound pedantic, at all. I know I wanted to know what to expect - what was good and what 'bad'. All I can say is that mine took the following course:

At surgery it was 600. That was 27/01/09

It was 61 on 18/02/11

It was 31 on 07/03/11

It was 6 on 24/03/11 when I started chemo, and has stayed there (5,6 or 7) ever since. The consultant who saw me just before my 1st chemo said that that was a remarkable decline, so I presume that it is usually slower than that. My Nurse Specialist also seemed to think that the steep decline was a v good sign - but I don't know if she was just being encouraging. I'm sure your Mum's levels are now considered to be fine. I think my natural level is low.

Hope that helps.



Hi Huma

I'm glad your Mum seems to be responding well. Mine were 545 before surgery and dropped to 20, after my operation and have been between 16 and 10 ever since. I was also told that anything under 35 is within the normal range. I didn't need chemo so I can only speak for the effect of surgery as my o.c. was borderline.

All the best.

Wendy xx


Huma57 I'm glad you have asked this question as I've been wondering about my own CA125 levels, which were 2444 at the end of February and 2400 at he end of March. I don't know if these have been checked since I've been back in Manchester.

My initial biopsy showed some borderline cells but not enough to allow staging and for a definitive diagnosis. My concerns are that my CA125 levels seem higher that other people with borderline cancers and also the way my symptoms presented. Speaking to most people with borderline tumors they seemed to find out when they were having procedures or check-ups for something else. I went to see my GP with chronic constipation, bloating, nausea, indigestion and feeling full quickly. I had ascities and had 7 liters drained off my abdomen then 3 months later I had just over a liter of fluid drained off my chest.

I keep asking myself why I don't feel relieved as surgery is all the treatment I could need. I think I'm worried that I won't get the same level of follow up if it is a borderline cancer.


Do you have a specialist nurse who you can speak to at your hospital. It sounds as if the info you're getting is a bit unclear. Or are you in th middle of treatment, maybe when they are developing a new care plan for you. As others have said on here, CA125 is not a very reliable indicator and can be affected by a lot of things, it's not accurate as the only diagnosis tool for OC. Try to get a bit more info to clear up the CA125 accuracy.

All the best, Wendy xx



My Mum's (aged 70) when diagnosed last September was 1440 pre treatment, she then had 4 rounds of chemo up till xmas 2010 and her CA125 was as folllows:

after 1st Chemo 490

after 2nd chemo 288

after 3rd chemo 169

after 4th chemo 115

She then had surgery in Feb this year and 3 more rounds of chemo they stopped doing her CA125 test after the 4th round of chemo. But after her 7th round it was 29. She is on a 3 month break now and is due back towards the end of July for more tests, dreading this I must admit. She has been doing really well, at the moment she is in the middle of decorating her bungalow, as they say you cannot keep a good women down.

Take care



Everybody responds differently to treatment and they always say CA125 is only a guide line, but under 30 is normal. I am now on the 5th course of chemo, and as you can image my CA125 has been all over the place over the years, but this time it was up to 1963, which is the highest it has been, but it has been down as low as 12 after a successful treatment. I find it a good guide as to what my body is doing. During the last chemo session it was about 1000, then dropped to 800 then 600 then 400, then up 12 to 412, then up 200 then up another 300 on the last treatment, which I knew hadn't worked!

Thing was nobody warned me that it might be back after my initial treatment, so as you can imagen it was a big shock when it was back after 12 months!



Everybody is different and their response to surgery and chemo can affect CA125 levels in different ways.

My CA125 levels were 315 before surgery which dropped to 59 after. Since chemo, they have dropped to 33. My Oncologist tells me that anything under 35 is normal so that has reassured me. However, he also advised that they can go up and down without warning and hence they do not use CA125 as a measure of cancer in the body, but tend to take more notice of CT scan results.

hope that helps.


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