What is the role of serum CA 27-29 testing in the workup of breast cancer?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019
  • Author: Nikhil G Thaker, MD; Chief Editor: Eric B Staros, MD  more...
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Data is currently insufficient to recommend the use of CA 27-29 for screening, diagnosing, or staging breast cancer. [5, 9, 10, 11] CA 27-29 is infrequently elevated in early stage breast cancers or is completely absent from other breast cancers, making it difficult to detect early stage cancers or those tumors that do not express this antigen. Interestingly, the presence of this tumor marker in early stage breast cancer may predict worse outcomes, [5] but its implication on management of early stage breast cancers remains unclear. On the other hand, high levels of CA 27-29 can indicate metastatic disease, but evidence is insufficient to incorporate these marker levels into the staging system. Furthermore, since both benign and malignant conditions other than breast cancer can cause elevation in marker levels (Table 1), this assay cannot be reliably used to screen or diagnose breast cancer.

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