Is the CA19-9 a Reliable Pancreatic Cancer Diagnostic Test? I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with one of the hardest cancers to treat or cure. His diagnosis came from the combination of stomach pain and a positive CA19-9 blood test, purportedly a reliable pancreatic cancer test. But as I taught doctor’s I lectured to in 2017, a positive CA19-9 test does not necessarily diagnose pancreatic cancer. At best, I’d call it a “ball-parker,” unless the diagnosis goes unchallenged and cancer treatments are initiated. I’ve long wondered if cancer kills 50,000 American monthly, or cancer “therapies” kill 50,000 Americans monthly. But I digress.
At best, the CA19-9 suffers from accuracy problems (1). At worst, like the PSA test for prostate cancer, the CA19-9 isn’t even exclusively a cancer test. Both of these tests elevate during pregnancy! I kid you not! Indeed, the CA19-9 can elevate with liver disease, heart failure, respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems, urinary tract problems, blood diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis (2).
Unfortunately, not all of our healthcare specialists know this important information. A positive CA19-9 DOES NOT diagnose pancreatic cancer. This leaves the onus on we, the patients, to ask important questions and shop around if and when we don’t feel comfortable with our diagnosis, or…our providers!
1. National Library of Medicine via PubMed.gov: Serum CA 19-9 as a Biomarker for Pancreatic Cancer-A Comprehensive Review – PubMed (nih.gov)
2. Stamina Comfort: What Does “Elevated CA 19-9” Mean? – Stamina Comfort