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What is CA 72.4 test?
CA 72.4 test is used in the screening of and monitoring the treatment of stomach cancer.

It measures the amount of a tumour marker- tumour-associated glycoprotein 72 (TAG72) in the bloodstream, which is usually increased in case of gastric carcinoma.

Generally, gastric carcinoma presents with vague and non-specific symptoms, which makes it difficult to diagnose during the early stages. In later stages, the disease becomes too aggressive for curative therapy. Most common symptoms include indigestionbloated feeling after meals, heartburn and loss of appetite

Though it is a slow-growing cancer, asymptomatic precancerous changes can be easily seen in the inner lining of the stomach.

CA 72.4 test helps in early detection of stomach carcinoma to improve the 5-year survival rate.

  1. Why is CA 72.4 test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a CA 72.4 test?
  3. How is a CA 72.4 test performed?
  4. What do CA 72.4 test results mean?

CA 72.4 test is performed in individuals who are at high risk of developing gastric carcinomas.
Risk factors for gastric carcinoma include:

  • Helicobacter pylori infection
  • Chronic gastritis
  • Pernicious anaemia
  • Gastric polyps
  • Epstein–Barr virus infection
  • Intestinal metaplasia
  • Family history of adenomatous polyposis (familial adenomatous polyposis) or stomach cancer
  • Diet rich in salt and smoked food and low in vegetables and fruits
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Menetrier disease

Symptoms of stomach carcinoma, if at all present in any individual, are:

CA 72.4 test is sometimes used in conjunction with CEA levels, CA 19.9 levels and alpha-fetoprotein levels to screen high-risk patients for stomach carcinoma.
The test is also performed in patients, who already have stomach carcinoma and have undergone either surgery or chemoradiotherapy, to check for response to the therapy.

Additionally, the test is sometimes used in cases of cancer of the female reproductive organs, especially to check for the recurrence of cancer.

No special preparations are necessary for a CA 72.4 test.

It is simple that takes less than 5 minutes. An experienced laboratory specialist will withdraw a blood sample from a vein in your arm using a small needle. A small amount of blood will be collected in a sterile vial or test tube, which will then be sent to a laboratory for further analysis.

You may feel a momentary pricking pain as the needle goes in. Also, there is a minimal risk of pain and bruising at the site of injection along with light-headedness. However, mostly, these symptoms disappear quickly.

Levels of CA 72.4 are measured in terms of units/mL.

Normal results:
Normal levels of CA 72.4 are up to 6 units/mL.

Abnormal results:
CA 72.4 levels above 6 units/mL are considered as high.
High levels of CA 72.4 indicate the following:

  • Stomach carcinoma
  • Poor response to the therapy for stomach cancer
  • Recurrence of stomach cancer after successful treatment

Rising levels of CA 72.4 indicate poor response or recurrence of stomach cancer; whereas, reducing levels indicate a positive response to the therapy for cancer.
In addition, high levels of CA 72.4 may indicate other forms of adenocarcinomas of the gastrointestinal system. It is also helpful in screening for abdominal neoplasms.

In certain gynaecological malignancies, which show positive or elevated CA 72.4 levels, serial evaluation of CA 72.4 becomes a helpful tool to check for the recurrence. Increasing levels of 72.4 levels in these conditions indicate recurrence of malignancies.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

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  1. Martín-Pérez E et al. Determination of the tumor marker CA 72-4 in gastric carcinoma Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 1993 Feb;83(2):92-6 PMID: 8471361
  2. Fiorella Guadagni et al. CA 72-4 Measurement of Tumor-associated Glycoprotein 72 (TAG-72) as a Serum Marker in the Management of Gastric Carcinoma1 Journal of Cancer Research, March 1, 1992, Volume 52, Page:1222-1227
  3. National Institutes of Health; National Cancer Institute. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Gastric Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version.
  4. American Cancer Society [Internet] Atlanta, Georgia, U.S; Stomach Cancer Survival Rates.
  5. Mattar, Rejane et al. Preoperative serum levels of CA 72-4, CEA, CA 19-9 and Alpha-fetoprotein in patient with gastric cancer Rev. Hosp. Clin. [online], 2002, Volume 57, No: 3, Page no:89-92
  6. Guadagni F et al. CA 72-4 serum marker--a new tool in the management of carcinoma patients Cancer Invest. 1995;13(2):227-38 PMID: 7874576
  7. University of Rochester Medical Center. [Internet] Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; CA 19-9