Over the years as my mother has gone through different chemotherapy treatments, the doctors have invariably focused on her CA-125 blood test results. My parents let us know when the numbers are up or down. It is a weird feeling though. Our outlook and moods are influenced by this seemingly arbitrary number that we actually know very little about. The CA-125 has become a barometer for our optimism and a bogey man which leaves us wondering if things will improve or get worse. We worry about "mom's numbers."
This week we had good news on the numbers. My mom got a call from her doctor earlier this week saying that her CA-125 numbers had come down considerably. She was elated that they had gone from 2400 to 700. That's good news, of course, but a 700 score is still very high. (A normal level of CA-125 is around 35 and anything over 65 is worrisome.) The doctor was elated with this improvement, but was admittedly at a loss to explain why it had improved so much. My mother was a bit circumspect about it. "We've seen the numbers go down before," she said. She doesn't want to get her hopes up.
- John Hopkins: CA-125 Q&A