Home > Journals > Minerva Medica > Past Issues > Minerva Medica 2020 April;111(2) > Minerva Medica 2020 April;111(2):133-40



Publishing options
To subscribe
Submit an article
Recommend to your librarian


Publication history
Cite this article as



Minerva Medica 2020 April;111(2):133-40

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4806.20.06474-5


language: English

The generally low sensitivity of CA 125 for FIGO stage I ovarian cancer diagnosis increases for endometrioid histotype

Giovanni GRANDI 1 , Anna M. PERRONE 2, Angela TOSS 3, Amerigo VITAGLIANO 4, Stefano FRISO 2, Fabio FACCHINETTI 1, Laura CORTESI 3, Stefano CASCINU 3, Pierandrea DE IACO 2

1 Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences for Mother, Child and Adult, University Polyclinic of Modena, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy; 2 Unit of Gynecologic Oncology, S. Orsola-Malpighi Polyclinic,
University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; 3 Department of Oncology and Hematology, University Hospital of Modena, Modena, Italy; 4 Unit of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Women and Children’s Health, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

BACKGROUND: The serum marker CA 125 is still the most widely used biomarker for ovarian cancer (OC) diagnosis in gynecological and oncological setting, but its predictive role in early-stage OC is still debated. The aim of this study was to explore the value of CA 125 in distinguishing between early-stage OC and borderline ovarian tumor (BOT) and to evaluate the accuracy of CA 125 in the detection of early stage OC.
METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was performed at the University Hospital of Bologna (Italy) on 1296 consecutive women suffering from OC or BOT (diagnosed at histology) between 1988-2017. Patients for whom CA 125 level was determined preoperatively were included. The positive cut-off level used was >35 U/mL.
RESULTS: Of 910 patients, 192 (21.1%) were diagnosed with BOT and 718 (78.9%) with OC. The sensitivity of CA 125 for stage I OC was 54.4 (95% CI: 45.3-63.3) (51.5 for IA, 54.6 for IB, 58.3 for IC), but it increased to 78.0 (95% CI: 63.7-88.0) for stage II. Interestingly, in stage I OC, CA 125 presented a significantly higher sensitivity for the endometrioid histotype [72.4 (95% CI: 52.5-86.5) vs. 49.0 (95% CI: 38.6-59.4), P=0.026]. The positive likelihood ratio of CA 125 for early-stage OC compared to BOT was 1.29 (95% CI: 1.06-1.58).
CONCLUSIONS: Despite its limited sensitivity for early-stage OCs, CA 125 still represents a useful serum marker to early differentiate between OCs and BOTs. Its sensitivity for stage I OC increases in endometrioid histotype.

KEY WORDS: Ovarian neoplasms; CA 125 antigen; Early diagnosis

top of page