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What is CA 27.29 test?

Cancer antigen 27.29 or simply CA 27.29 test is performed to look for certain cancers in a given blood sample. CA 27.29 is an antigen that is released into the blood by specific cancer cells. It stimulates body’s defence system and acts as a tumour marker, providing information about the cancer. Measuring the amount of CA 27.29 in blood primarily helps monitor cancer.

In most cases, breast cancer is responsible for the increase in CA 27.29 levels. This test has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to monitor breast cancer.

  1. Why is CA 27.29 test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for CA 27.29 Test?
  3. How is CA 27.29 test performed?
  4. What do CA 27.29 test results mean?

CA 27.29 test is used to monitor the treatment efficacy in women with advanced breast cancer. However, it is not used as a screening test to detect breast cancer. Doctors recommend this test if a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer. CA 27.29 test is also ordered:

  • To check if cancer has recurred or spread after the completion of treatment      
  • To check if cancer has spread before beginning the treatment
  • To assess the effectiveness of the treatment

Tumour marker tests like CA 27.29 are useful to:

  • Plan the treatment regimen: If the test results indicate low levels, it typically means that the treatment is effective    
  • Help predict the outcome of the disease    
  • Screen individuals who are at a higher risk of cancer. Some of the common risk factors for cancer include a previous diagnosis of another cancer type and family history     

No special preparations are required for this test.

It is a simple blood test, in which, a needle is used to collect a blood sample from a vein in the arm.

The following steps are taken by the technician to collect a blood sample for the test:

  • The technician first disinfects the skin    
  • A tourniquet is placed above the area of blood withdrawal so that the vein is filled with blood and it is easy to visualise it for injection    
  • The needle is inserted into the vein (on the back of the hand or the inside of the elbow) and blood is withdrawn
  • The sample is stored in a vial    
  • After sample collection, the needle is removed from the vein and the tourniquet is removed as well

CA27.29 test typically requires just a few minutes.

Minor risks associated with this test include bruising, bleeding and infection at the needle insertion site. Some people also feel lightheaded after the blood sample is withdrawn.

Results of CA 27.29 test might vary based on gender, age, and health history of the individual and the method used for the test. It is best to consult a doctor to get a clear interpretation of test results.           

Normal results:

Normal CA 27.29 level is ≤38 U/mL.

Abnormal results:

  • CA 27.29 level >38 U/mL indicates the possibility of cancer recurrence, spread of cancer to other body parts or active breast cancer    
  • A false positive result may be observed if CA 27-29 levels go up because of conditions other than cancer, such as:

Test results might also alter if individuals are in contact with mouse antigens in their surroundings or are treated for cancer with medicines containing mouse antigens.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.  

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  1. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; CA 27-29
  2. American Society of Clinical Oncology [internet]; Tumor Marker Tests
  3. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; Health Information: Tumor Markers
  4. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth's Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Cancer Tumor Markers (CA 15-3 [27, 29], CA 19-9, CA-125, and CA-50); 121 p.
  5. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2018. Diagnosis of Cancer
  6. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; What are tumor markers?
  7. Penn Medicine: University of Pennsylvania [internet]. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; Patient Guide to Tumor Markers
  8. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; Lab Tests for Cancer
  9. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests
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