Prognostic value of repeated serum CA 125 measurements in first trimester pregnancy

T Schmidt, D T Rein, D Foth, H W Eibach, C M Kurbacher, P Mallmann, T Römer
European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology 2001, 97 (2): 168-73

OBJECTIVE: To assess the diagnostic value of maternal CA 125 in patients with symptomatic first trimester pregnancy and to evaluate the prognostic significance of CA 125 versus beta-hCG in early pregnancies with intact fetal heartbeat, complicated by vaginal bleeding.

STUDY DESIGN: Two prospective open-label studies with longitudinal follow-up in the second trial.

SETTING: Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Cologne.

PATIENTS: Study 1: 168 patients presenting between gestational weeks 6 and 12 with: extrauterine pregnancy, 29; missed abortion, 50; incomplete spontaneous abortion, 38; imminent abortion, 33; and normal pregnancy (no history of endometriosis or ovarian mass), 18. Study 2: Fifty consecutive patients with vaginal bleeding during gestational weeks 6-12 all of whom having demostrable fetal heartbeat. Eighteen patients finally aborted whereas the remainder had normally continuing pregnancy until term.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Study 1: Single serum determinations of CA 125 and beta-hCG were correlated with the different disorders observed. Study 2: Two sequential measurements of serum CA 125 and beta-hCG performed within a 5-7 days interval were related to the outcome of pregnancy as indicated by changes of the ultrasound presentation, miscarriage, future hospitalization, or delivery.

RESULTS: Study 1: Patients with vaginal bleeding generally had higher median CA 125 values (38 IU/ml; range 1.3-540) compared to non-bleeding patients (17.8 IU/ml; range 1.0-157). No statistically significant differences in regard to median serum CA 125 levels between symptomatic and normal pregnancies occurred: normal pregnancy, 25.5 IU/ml (range 3.2-97); ectopic pregnancy, 26 IU/ml (range 1.3-157); missed abortion, 19.1IU/ml (range 1-242); threatened abortion, 48 IU/ml (range 5.2-540); spontaneous abortion, 40 IU/ml (range 5.4-442). Study 2: Initial CA 125 levels did not differ significantly between both groups of patients with 27/32 non-aborters and 13/18 aborters showing concentrations below 65 IU/ml. After 5-7 days, CA 125 in all patients who eventually aborted remained high or increased whereas non-aborters all had constantly low or steeply declining CA 125 measures. beta-hCG increased in all non-aborters but also in 13/18 aborters during the 5-7 day interval.

CONCLUSION: Single serum measurements of CA 125 in symptomatic first trimester pregnant patients failed to discriminate spontaneous abortion, ectopic or normal pregnancies. However, sequential determinations of maternal CA 125 measurements appear to be a highly sensitive prognostic marker in patients with viable pregnancy at risk for abortion.

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