Measuring the levels of a biomarker protein called cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) is important for best management of endometriosis patients, especially in advanced disease stages.
CA-125 is a protein that has been used as a biomarker for women with pelvic masses, such as those in endometriosis. But it is also used as a biomarker for ovarian cancer and for monitoring the effects of ovarian cancer therapy.
Previous studies reported that in women with moderate or severe endometriosis, CA-125 levels are significantly increased. Since the levels of CA-125 are often similar in endometriosis and ovarian malignancy conditions, the authors of the study evaluated how these levels correlate with the disease features of women with endometriosis who are patients at their health center.
Specifically, they wanted to determine the best CA-125 cut-off level in pre- and postmenopausal women with endometriosis.
Researchers measured the CA-125 levels in blood samples from 87 women (ages 21 to 54) suspected to have endometriosis with pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), or dyspareunia (difficult or painful sexual intercourse). These levels were measured before any surgical treatment. Authors also analyzed how CA-125 levels correlate with disease severity.
They found a significant positive correlation between the elevated pre-surgical levels of CA-125 in women’s blood samples with aggravated symptoms of endometriosis, including stage of disease, adhesion score, and lesion size. These findings are in agreement with previous reports in which advanced endometriosis was associated with high levels of CA-125 in patients’ blood samples. No correlation, however, was found for differences in age, women’s marital status, complaints, and pelvic pain score.
Therefore, the authors wrote, “preoperative serum CA-125 assessment should be considered in all patients with suspected advanced disease stage or presence of unfavorable histology in endometrial biopsy as an adjunct to the stage prediction of disease and subsequent patient management.”
The pre-surgical levels of CA-125 were of 37 U/ml in pre-menopausal patients, while post-menopausal patients registered 35 U/ml.
Overall, authors concluded, “Preoperative serum CA-125 is an important predictor for patients with endometriosis and it should be taken into consideration when surgical management is suspected, especially if the stage of disease, lesion size and adhesion score are undertaken.”
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