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Q. What is the significance of an elevated CA-19 tumor marker?

Answered by
Dr. Rajesh Kumar Padhan
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on May 08, 2016 and last reviewed on: Oct 09, 2018

Hello doctor,

I have a question regarding the significance of an elevated CA-19 tumor marker. I recently had one and that came back as 43 (per laboratory should have been under 34). I do not have cancer and I am wondering what else could cause this elevation? Please help.

Dr. Rajesh Kumar Padhan

Medical Gastroenterology


Welcome to

  • CA 19-9 (cancer antigen) is a tumor marker, but it can be elevated in healthy individual.
  • It can be elevated in benign conditions like pancreatitis, cirrhosis, thyroid disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • It can be elevated in various gastrointestinal malignancies like gastric cancer, pancreatic cancer and colorectal cancer.
  • If you are asymptomatic like no history of weight loss and anorexia then no need to worry.
  • If you have worried symptoms like significant weight loss and anorexia then you need evaluation.

Investigations to be done:

CBC (complete blood count), LFT (liver function test) and USG (ultrasonography) of abdomen.

Regarding follow up:

Revert back after the tests to a medical gastroenterologist online.--->

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Thank you doctor,

I will follow up with my PCP as I do have some symptoms. I have a history of ulcers and gastritis and I am wondering if that could cause an elevation. I have also read that reduced lung function can cause it. Is that true? I have a paralyzed diaphragm from nerve damage sustained during heart surgery and as a result my lung capacity is only about 60 percent.

Dr. Rajesh Kumar Padhan

Medical Gastroenterology


Welcome back to

  • History of ulcer, gastritis and reduced lung function does not cause elevation of CA 19-9.

For further doubts consult a medical gastroenterologist online -->

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