CA 15.3

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  • CA 15.3

    1 test included



blood sample




Age group

7 years & above

Breast cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer diagnosed in women after skin cancer. Although it can occur in both men and women, breast cancer is most common in women. Usually, it involves rapid changes in the breast shape, colour, etc. The breast cells grow at an abnormal rate in a person affected by the disease. It can spread across the body via the lymph nodes in a metastasised state.

Various factors, such as lifestyle, environmental factors, and hormonal changes, are responsible for cancer. However, people with no apparent risk factors may also develop breast cancer. Common symptoms include: 

  • A thickened feeling or a lump in the breast 
  • A newly occurring inverted nipple 
  • A sudden noticeable change in the shape, size, and appearance of the breasts 
  • Changes in the skin around the breast, also known as dimpling 
  • Pitting or redness of the breast skin

Sudden peeling, crusting, flaking, or scaling of the pigmented area around the breast skin or areola 
If cancer reaches the metastasis state, it can go beyond the breast tissues and spread to the following areas of the body:

  • Liver
  • Lungs 
  • Bones
  • Brain

However, the cancer is always termed based on its origin, and a metastasised cancer originating from the breast is still breast cancer. The cancer type falls under the treatable category, given it can be detected early. Cancer antigen 15-3, or CA 15-3, is a protein that acts as a breast cancer marker.

The relation between CA 15-3 serum concentration and clinical-pathological parameters of metastatic breast cancer makes it a well-known tumour marker or biomarker. Other than the cancer antigen 15-3, other markers for breast cancer are carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and the cancer antigen 27.29 (CA 27.29).

However, the elevated level of CA 15-3 in both cancerous and non-cancerous conditions makes it a popular marker for the disease. Usually, your doctor may ask you to get the CA 27-29 marker checked along with the CA 15-3. This provides a more comprehensive study of the cancer type.

The cancer antigen 15-3 marker test is the best tool for detecting the body's response to the treatment.

Therefore, other than testing for the presence of cancer, you will also be prescribed the test if: 

  • You are diagnosed with breast cancer, to check the progress of the treatment 
  • You are treated for breast cancer to check for further progress or return of the disease

The test requires a blood sample. So, when you book the test from Apollo 24|7 or other diagnostic services, a phlebotomist will visit you to collect it. A needle is inserted into the vein in the arm to draw a small amount of blood.

Although there are no significant risks or pain involved in the process, the needle does carry some risk of bleeding, bruising, and infection. You may even feel soreness around the area for a couple of hours.

The CA 15-3 antigen stimulates the body’s defence system, while some cancer cells might release the antigen into the bloodstream. Other than breast cancer, other forms of cancer that may elevate the CA 15-3 level are liver and ovarian cancers. 

faqFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A higher level of CA 15-3 detected in the blood generally denotes a more significant number of cancer cells. The levels are the highest during metastatic breast cancer when it reaches the bones, liver, etc. If the level of cancer antigen 15-3 returns back to the normal range (less than or equal to 30 U/mL), it is assumed that the treatment is on the right track.
The ideal range of CA 15-3 in a healthy body should be less than or equal to 30 U/mL. If it rises above 30 U/mL, there may be metastatic breast cancer. Unfortunately, most of the cases that are diagnosed with breast cancer fall in the metastasis category.
CA15-3 antigen markers are used for diagnosing breast cancer since it has the highest sensitivity range, about 75-76.9%. However, a positive CA 15-3 test result does not assure that the patient has breast cancer or recurring breast cancer. Other causes, like pelvic inflammatory diseases, liver conditions, and endometriosis, also raise CA 15-3 levels in the body. Even pregnant women tend to have a high level of antigen. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is a marker that should be tested, alongside, to ensure the presence of the cancer.
Other than any type of cancer, health conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, cirrhosis of the liver, hepatitis, pancreatitis, and biliary obstruction can increase the levels. Even a peptic ulcer disease and heavy smoking can increase the tumour marker levels in the body.
Although specific factors are yet to be determined for breast cancer tumours, certain factors are reported to increase the chances. These include alcohol consumption, obesity, inactive lifestyle, and postmenopausal hormone therapy, to name a few. Avoiding these can increase your chances of avoiding developing breast cancer.
Exercising, in general, is good for the body since it boosts the immune system and helps prevent obesity. Although it does not absolutely confirm the prevention of breast cancer or any other cancer, it can up your chances of survival. So, try putting at least three hours/week, or about 30 minutes daily, into rigorous physical activities.

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The information mentioned above is meant for educational purposes only and should not be taken as a substitute to your Physician’s advice. It is highly recommended that the customer consults with a qualified healthcare professional to interpret test results