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Serum Biomarkers May Identify Early-Stage Ovarian Cancer

Researchers found that a panel of four serum biomarkers may be effective in detecting early-stage ovarian cancers.

Dr. Robin Farias-Eisner of the UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, and team reported that the popularly used serum marker CA-125 will show elevated levels in only about half of early-stage ovarian cancers.

To support the findings, the researchers evaluated 358 serum samples using CA-125 along with the serum proteins apolipoprotein A-1, transthyretin, and transferrin as screening tools. The samples were taken from healthy controls, patients with benign adnexal masses, and patients with early- and late-stage ovarian cancer.

The team could detect early-stage cancer with a sensitivity and specificity of 96%. For detection of the endometrioid subtype of early-stage carcinomas, the highest sensitivity was 98%.

The use of Serum CA-125 levels combination with transvaginal ultrasound, the researchers point out, provide sensitivity of no more than 78%.

Prospective analysis of the panel in (a) clinical setting, the investigators conclude, is needed next to validate this panel of biomarkers as an effective screening tool.

Nevertheless, Dr. Farias-Eisner told that the clinical application for our family of differentially expressed proteins, or biomarkers, is to apply them, not as a general screening tool, but rather apply our biomarkers to a population at high risk to develop ovarian cancer.

This high-risk population, he added, would include patients with a significant family history of ovarian cancer or patients with BRCA deleterious mutations. They represent an enriched population in whom the prevalence of ovarian cancer is significantly increased when compared to the general population.