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Cancer antigen CA 19-9 is a neoplastic marker, a compound found in the blood of cancer patients. The presence of CA 19-9 neoplastic antigen may indicate the development of pancreatic and bile duct cancer, as well as other neoplasms of the digestive system. Check if any other cancers are suspected, the CA 19-9 antigen concentration is determined, what are the standards for this test and how to interpret its results.

CA 19-9 tumor antigenistumor marker , or - colloquially speaking - a cancer detector. Normally, tumor markers are not found in a he althy human body, however CA 19-9 antigen is produced not only by tumor cells but also by gastrointestinal and liver cells in utero, as well as mature cells of the pancreas, bile ducts, salivary glands and bronchi. In addition, it is found in the cervical mucus and in the seminal fluid. Therefore, its presence is also detected in he althy people. However, then its blood level is low. Only an abnormally elevated concentration of CA 19-9 antigen may suggest that neoplasm is developing.

Tumor antigen CA 19-9 - indications for the test

The level of CA 19-9 neoplastic antigen is measured primarily when pancreatic and bile duct cancer is suspected. Other cancers for suspected CA 19-9 include liver cancer, colorectal cancer, gallbladder cancer, and stomach cancer.

Thanks to the test, it is also possible to detect inflammation of the digestive system, liver and pancreas, e.g. pancreatitis.

Determination of the CA 19-9 antigen concentration is also performed in order to monitor the treatment of patients with pancreatic cancer, bile duct cancer and gastric cancer, as well as after the end of treatment, to timely detect possible relapse or tumor metastasis.

CA 19-9 cancer antigen - what is the test?

In order to determine the concentration of CA 19-9 antigen, blood is taken from a vein in the arm.


Tumor antigen CA 19-9 - standards

In he althy people, CA 19-9 antigen is present in small amounts, not exceeding 37 U / ml. A very small percentage of people do not produce this antigen at all.

CA 19-9 tumor antigen - results

The result of 1000 U / ml and even tens of thousands of U / ml usually provesneoplasm - most often pancreatic cancer, although it may also indicate gallbladder cancer, colorectal cancer and others. cancer.

The diagnostic sensitivity of CA 19-9 for pancreatic tail cancers is around 60%, and for pancreatic head cancers around 80%. (This means that 80 out of 100% of patients are diagnosed thanks to this test).


Increased level of CA 19-9 antigen does not clearly indicate cancer. On their basis, it is only possible to make a preliminary diagnosis, which must be confirmed by other tests, e.g. ultrasound or histopathological examination. Not all pancreatic cancer secretes the CA 19-9 antigen. It may happen that, despite the ongoing neoplastic process, the CA 19-9 level is normal.

Increased concentration of CA 19-9 neoplastic antigen does not occur in patients with pancreatic cancer and other neoplasms, if these are in the early stages of development. The alarming level of CA 19-9 does not appear until the cancer is advanced.

Increased, but not so much, within the limits of 100 U / ml (rarely exceeding 500 U / ml), the level of CA 19-9 antigen suggests inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, e.g. hepatitis or pancreatitis.

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