Should I ask my doctor for a CA 125 blood test to check for ovarian cancer?

Answer From Tatnai Burnett, M.D.

The cancer antigen 125 (CA 125) blood test generally isn't recommended if you have an average risk of ovarian cancer.

Sometimes ovarian cancer causes a higher level of CA 125 in the blood. But that doesn't happen in everyone with ovarian cancer. Having a high level of CA 125 doesn't mean that you have ovarian cancer.

Many other conditions can raise your CA 125 level, including:

  • Endometriosis
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Menstruation
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Uterine fibroids

For these reasons, health care providers don't recommend CA 125 testing in those with an average risk of ovarian cancer.

Providers sometimes recommend CA 125 testing if you have a high risk of ovarian cancer. But not all providers agree on this advice. Your risk might be high if the genes that increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers run in your family. These genes include BRCA1 and BRCA2.

If you're concerned about your risk of ovarian cancer, ask your provider about screening options and ways to lower your risk.


Tatnai Burnett, M.D.

Women’s health topics - straight to your inbox

Get the latest information from our Mayo Clinic experts on women’s health topics, serious and complex conditions, wellness and more. Click to view a preview and subscribe below.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the email.

Aug. 25, 2022 See more Expert Answers