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Laboratory Test Reference Guide

Laboratory Information

Test Name

CA 15-3

External Price (excl. GST)



Specimen Collection

Adult Specimen

Heparin (light green), SST (gold), "T-" labs SST (gold)

Paediatric Specimen

0.3 ml Heparin (light green) or Plain(red).

Test Information



Test Availability

Mon - Fri, 0800 - 1630 excl. Public Holidays

Laboratory Turnaround Time

3 days


cobas e601

Unit Of Measurement


Reference Interval

< 30 U/ml

Uncertainty Of Measurement


Diagnostic Use Or Instructions

The Choosing Wisely recommendations include the following:

Do not perform serum tumour marker tests except for the monitoring of a cancer known to produce these markers.

The DHB Shared Services

Laboratory Test Referral Guidelines have recommendations for a number of specific tumour markers. They note tumour markers are not indicated for screening of an asymptomatic low risk population, investigation of non-specific symptoms, when the probability of malignancy is low, investigation of other suspected malignancies.

The DHB Shared Services Laboratory Test Referral Guidelines note:

CA 15-3 is elevated in patients with a wide range of malignancies including breast, pancreatic, colorectal, lung, endometrial, liver and ovarian. It is also elevated in non-malignant disorders such as cirrhosis, benign breast disease and gynaecological disorders and pregnancy. It is most widely used in monitoring breast cancer patients after treatment although evidence this improves outcomes is weak. It does not have the required sensitivity or specificity to be used as a screening or diagnostic test. At diagnosis of breast cancer the level of CA 15-3 can provide information about the likelihood of metastases.

It is indicated:

 At diagnosis of breast cancer to provide prognostic information

 After treatment to monitor response and detect relapse

Minimum Volume

0.1 ml heparin plasma or serum.

Electronic Information

Registration Code


HL7Mapping Code