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High CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test

Blood test
High CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test
Last update: 14/06/2021

What is a high CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test called?

  • High CA 15-3

What is the normal CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test?

If you need to know which are the CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) reference ranges or you require more information about CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test, you can visit normal CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test.

What does a high CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) mean?

CA 15-3 is a breast cancer–associated antigen. Higher serum levels are often found in clients with breast cancer metastasis, especially at multiple sites or to bone (more than 64% of the cases). It is usually used as a marker for recurrent breast cancer as they begin to rise before clinical evidence of a relapse.

Elevated CA 15-3 is elevated also in a high percentage of other different types of cancer, for example, pancreatic (80%), lung (71%), ovarian (64%), colorectal (63%), and liver (28%). The higher the CA 15-3 value is in the blood, the more advanced the cancer is.

CA 19-3 may be also high in benign conditions, including benign ovarian tumor, benign breast disease (fibroadenoma) and in other chronic disorders such as chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and hypothyroidism.

CA 15-3 should not be used to diagnose primary breast cancer because the incidence of elevation (23%) is low. CA 15-3 is most useful in monitoring therapy and disease progression in metastatic breast cancer patients. A significant change in the value must be at least 25% and has been shown to correlate with disease progression in 90% of patients, and with regression in 78%. No change correlates with disease stability in 60%. A paradoxical increase in CA 15-3 may be seen in those who respond to treatment (that means that in the first 4-6 weeks after the start of treatment values may increase temporally to decrease after a while).

  • Moderate CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) increase (30 - 50 U/ml in adults):

    There is a moderate increase in the CA 15-3 level in the blood. CA 15-3 is not very specific for any disease and it is not used for the diagnosis.

    It may be related to benign and malignant disorders. For example, it may suggest benign disorders such as fibroadenoma (breast benign tumor), hepatitis or liver cirrhosis. It may also suggest malignant tumor, such as breast, ovarian, lung or colorectal neoplasm.

    If you are under treatment for breast cancer, a decrease from the last test is a positive sign and suggests a good prognosis.

  • Severe CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) increase 8> 50 U/ml in adults):

    A severe CA 15-3 increase is usually a sign of a malignant cancer. For example, it may be related to breast, ovarian, lung or colorectal cancer.

    Values over 50 U/L are not usually related to benign disorders so it is important to visit your doctor as soon as possible.

    If you are under treatment for breast cancer, an increase from the last test is a negative sign and suggests a poor prognosis.

Which factors can raise the CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test?

The most common diseases why the CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) can be higher than normal are:

  • Pregnancy
  • Hemodialysis

Which diseases can raise your CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test?

The most common diseases why the CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) can be higher than normal are:

What can I do to lower the CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test?

CA 15-3 is commonly used as a tumor marker. It may be also high in some benign diseases. The best way to reduce the CA 15-3 level in the blood is by treating the underlying disease.

Where can I find more information about CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test?

You can visit our pages about:

Which values are considered a high CA 15-3 (Carcinoma Antigen) in a blood test?

The following values are considered to be above the normal range:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in U/ml. They are an example of a healthy non-smoker man/woman of about 40 years old with no known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

CA 15-3
Moderate CA 15-3 increase
30.1 U/ml30.2 U/ml30.3 U/ml30.4 U/ml30.5 U/ml30.6 U/ml30.7 U/ml30.8 U/ml
30.9 U/ml31 U/ml31.1 U/ml31.2 U/ml31.3 U/ml31.4 U/ml31.5 U/ml31.6 U/ml
31.7 U/ml31.8 U/ml31.9 U/ml32 U/ml32.1 U/ml32.2 U/ml32.3 U/ml32.4 U/ml
32.5 U/ml32.6 U/ml32.7 U/ml32.8 U/ml32.9 U/ml33 U/ml33.1 U/ml33.2 U/ml
33.3 U/ml33.4 U/ml33.5 U/ml33.6 U/ml33.7 U/ml33.8 U/ml33.9 U/ml34 U/ml
34.1 U/ml34.2 U/ml34.3 U/ml34.4 U/ml34.5 U/ml34.6 U/ml34.7 U/ml34.8 U/ml
34.9 U/ml35 U/ml35.1 U/ml35.2 U/ml35.3 U/ml35.4 U/ml35.5 U/ml35.6 U/ml
35.7 U/ml35.8 U/ml35.9 U/ml36 U/ml36.1 U/ml36.2 U/ml36.3 U/ml36.4 U/ml
36.5 U/ml36.6 U/ml36.7 U/ml36.8 U/ml36.9 U/ml37 U/ml37.1 U/ml37.2 U/ml
37.3 U/ml37.4 U/ml37.5 U/ml37.6 U/ml37.7 U/ml37.8 U/ml37.9 U/ml38 U/ml
38.1 U/ml38.2 U/ml38.3 U/ml38.4 U/ml38.5 U/ml38.6 U/ml38.7 U/ml38.8 U/ml
38.9 U/ml39 U/ml39.1 U/ml39.2 U/ml39.3 U/ml39.4 U/ml39.5 U/ml39.6 U/ml
39.7 U/ml39.8 U/ml39.9 U/ml40 U/ml40.1 U/ml40.2 U/ml40.3 U/ml40.4 U/ml
40.5 U/ml40.6 U/ml40.7 U/ml40.8 U/ml40.9 U/ml41 U/ml41.1 U/ml41.2 U/ml
41.3 U/ml41.4 U/ml41.5 U/ml41.6 U/ml41.7 U/ml41.8 U/ml41.9 U/ml42 U/ml
42.1 U/ml42.2 U/ml42.3 U/ml42.4 U/ml42.5 U/ml42.6 U/ml42.7 U/ml42.8 U/ml
42.9 U/ml43 U/ml43.1 U/ml43.2 U/ml43.3 U/ml43.4 U/ml43.5 U/ml43.6 U/ml
43.7 U/ml43.8 U/ml43.9 U/ml44 U/ml44.1 U/ml44.2 U/ml44.3 U/ml44.4 U/ml
44.5 U/ml44.6 U/ml44.7 U/ml44.8 U/ml44.9 U/ml45 U/ml45.1 U/ml45.2 U/ml
45.3 U/ml45.4 U/ml45.5 U/ml45.6 U/ml45.7 U/ml45.8 U/ml45.9 U/ml46 U/ml
46.1 U/ml46.2 U/ml46.3 U/ml46.4 U/ml46.5 U/ml46.6 U/ml46.7 U/ml46.8 U/ml
46.9 U/ml47 U/ml47.1 U/ml47.2 U/ml47.3 U/ml47.4 U/ml47.5 U/ml47.6 U/ml
47.7 U/ml47.8 U/ml47.9 U/ml48 U/ml48.1 U/ml48.2 U/ml48.3 U/ml48.4 U/ml
48.5 U/ml48.6 U/ml48.7 U/ml48.8 U/ml48.9 U/ml49 U/ml49.1 U/ml49.2 U/ml
49.3 U/ml49.4 U/ml49.5 U/ml49.6 U/ml49.7 U/ml49.8 U/ml49.9 U/ml50 U/ml
Severe CA 15-3 increase
50.1 U/ml50.2 U/ml50.3 U/ml50.4 U/ml50.5 U/ml50.6 U/ml50.7 U/ml50.8 U/ml
50.9 U/ml51 U/ml51.1 U/ml51.2 U/ml51.3 U/ml51.4 U/ml51.5 U/ml51.6 U/ml
51.7 U/ml51.8 U/ml51.9 U/ml52 U/ml52.1 U/ml52.2 U/ml52.3 U/ml52.4 U/ml
52.5 U/ml52.6 U/ml52.7 U/ml52.8 U/ml52.9 U/ml53 U/ml53.1 U/ml53.2 U/ml
53.3 U/ml53.4 U/ml53.5 U/ml53.6 U/ml53.7 U/ml53.8 U/ml53.9 U/ml54 U/ml
54.1 U/ml54.2 U/ml54.3 U/ml54.4 U/ml54.5 U/ml54.6 U/ml54.7 U/ml54.8 U/ml
54.9 U/ml55 U/ml55.1 U/ml55.2 U/ml55.3 U/ml55.4 U/ml55.5 U/ml55.6 U/ml
55.7 U/ml55.8 U/ml55.9 U/ml56 U/ml56.1 U/ml56.2 U/ml56.3 U/ml56.4 U/ml
56.5 U/ml56.6 U/ml56.7 U/ml56.8 U/ml56.9 U/ml57 U/ml57.1 U/ml57.2 U/ml
57.3 U/ml57.4 U/ml57.5 U/ml57.6 U/ml57.7 U/ml57.8 U/ml57.9 U/ml58 U/ml
58.1 U/ml58.2 U/ml58.3 U/ml58.4 U/ml58.5 U/ml58.6 U/ml58.7 U/ml58.8 U/ml
58.9 U/ml59 U/ml59.1 U/ml59.2 U/ml59.3 U/ml59.4 U/ml59.5 U/ml59.6 U/ml
59.7 U/ml59.8 U/ml59.9 U/ml60 U/ml60.1 U/ml60.2 U/ml60.3 U/ml60.4 U/ml
60.5 U/ml60.6 U/ml60.7 U/ml60.8 U/ml60.9 U/ml61 U/ml61.1 U/ml61.2 U/ml
61.3 U/ml61.4 U/ml61.5 U/ml61.6 U/ml61.7 U/ml61.8 U/ml61.9 U/ml62 U/ml
62.1 U/ml62.2 U/ml62.3 U/ml62.4 U/ml62.5 U/ml62.6 U/ml62.7 U/ml62.8 U/ml
62.9 U/ml63 U/ml63.1 U/ml63.2 U/ml63.3 U/ml63.4 U/ml63.5 U/ml63.6 U/ml
63.7 U/ml63.8 U/ml63.9 U/ml64 U/ml64.1 U/ml64.2 U/ml64.3 U/ml64.4 U/ml
64.5 U/ml64.6 U/ml64.7 U/ml64.8 U/ml64.9 U/ml65 U/ml65.1 U/ml65.2 U/ml
65.3 U/ml65.4 U/ml65.5 U/ml65.6 U/ml65.7 U/ml65.8 U/ml65.9 U/ml66 U/ml
66.1 U/ml66.2 U/ml66.3 U/ml66.4 U/ml66.5 U/ml66.6 U/ml66.7 U/ml66.8 U/ml
66.9 U/ml67 U/ml67.1 U/ml67.2 U/ml67.3 U/ml67.4 U/ml67.5 U/ml67.6 U/ml
67.7 U/ml67.8 U/ml67.9 U/ml68 U/ml68.1 U/ml68.2 U/ml68.3 U/ml68.4 U/ml
68.5 U/ml68.6 U/ml68.7 U/ml68.8 U/ml68.9 U/ml69 U/ml69.1 U/ml69.2 U/ml
69.3 U/ml69.4 U/ml69.5 U/ml69.6 U/ml69.7 U/ml69.8 U/ml69.9 U/ml70 U/ml
70.1 U/ml70.2 U/ml70.3 U/ml70.4 U/ml70.5 U/ml70.6 U/ml70.7 U/ml70.8 U/ml
70.9 U/ml71 U/ml71.1 U/ml71.2 U/ml71.3 U/ml71.4 U/ml71.5 U/ml71.6 U/ml
71.7 U/ml71.8 U/ml71.9 U/ml72 U/ml72.1 U/ml72.2 U/ml72.3 U/ml72.4 U/ml
72.5 U/ml72.6 U/ml72.7 U/ml72.8 U/ml72.9 U/ml73 U/ml73.1 U/ml73.2 U/ml
73.3 U/ml73.4 U/ml73.5 U/ml73.6 U/ml73.7 U/ml73.8 U/ml73.9 U/ml74 U/ml
74.1 U/ml74.2 U/ml74.3 U/ml74.4 U/ml74.5 U/ml74.6 U/ml74.7 U/ml74.8 U/ml
74.9 U/ml75 U/ml75.1 U/ml75.2 U/ml75.3 U/ml75.4 U/ml75.5 U/ml75.6 U/ml
75.7 U/ml75.8 U/ml75.9 U/ml76 U/ml76.1 U/ml76.2 U/ml76.3 U/ml76.4 U/ml
76.5 U/ml76.6 U/ml76.7 U/ml76.8 U/ml76.9 U/ml77 U/ml77.1 U/ml77.2 U/ml
77.3 U/ml77.4 U/ml77.5 U/ml77.6 U/ml77.7 U/ml77.8 U/ml77.9 U/ml78 U/ml
78.1 U/ml78.2 U/ml78.3 U/ml78.4 U/ml78.5 U/ml78.6 U/ml78.7 U/ml78.8 U/ml
78.9 U/ml79 U/ml79.1 U/ml79.2 U/ml79.3 U/ml79.4 U/ml79.5 U/ml79.6 U/ml
79.7 U/ml79.8 U/ml79.9 U/ml80 U/ml80.1 U/ml80.2 U/ml80.3 U/ml80.4 U/ml
80.5 U/ml80.6 U/ml80.7 U/ml80.8 U/ml80.9 U/ml81 U/ml81.1 U/ml81.2 U/ml
81.3 U/ml81.4 U/ml81.5 U/ml81.6 U/ml81.7 U/ml81.8 U/ml81.9 U/ml82 U/ml
82.1 U/ml82.2 U/ml82.3 U/ml82.4 U/ml82.5 U/ml82.6 U/ml82.7 U/ml82.8 U/ml
82.9 U/ml83 U/ml83.1 U/ml83.2 U/ml83.3 U/ml83.4 U/ml83.5 U/ml83.6 U/ml
83.7 U/ml83.8 U/ml83.9 U/ml84 U/ml84.1 U/ml84.2 U/ml84.3 U/ml84.4 U/ml
Medically reviewed by our Medical staff on 14/06/2021


  • Concise Book of Medical Laboratory Technology: Methods and Interpretations. 2nd Edition. 2015. Ramnik Sood. Pag 683. ISBN: 978-93-5152-333-8.
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