In tumor markers such as CA 125, CA 19-9 and many other, CA stands for Carcinoma antigen, but what about the number?


There are dozens of cell marker genes. The number refers to antigen protein from one of those specific genes. The number itself can be a result of any of a variety of things, from the order in which the protein was discovered to the corresponding antibody being the 125th antibody produced against the cell line or organism. These are often used as biomarkers of various cancers. CA-125, for example, is sometimes found at high levels on the surface of blood cells in women with ovarian cancer.

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  • $\begingroup$ So there is no systematic way for numbering ? $\endgroup$ – M.ghorab Jan 20 '16 at 6:30
  • $\begingroup$ No, not as far as I can tell. CA-125 was named so because the antibody to it was the 125th antibody produced against the ovarian cell line the group was using. I'm not sure how CA 19-9 was named though. $\endgroup$ – Jared Andrews Jan 20 '16 at 13:53

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