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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2004 Apr;3(4):367-78. Epub 2004 Feb 28.

Mass spectrometry as a diagnostic and a cancer biomarker discovery tool: opportunities and potential limitations.

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  • Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital,and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. ediamandis@mtsinai.on.ca


Serum proteomic profiling, by using surfaced-enhanced laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight mass spectrometry, is one of the most promising new approaches for cancer diagnostics. Exceptional sensitivities and specificities have been reported for some cancer types such as prostate, ovarian, breast, and bladder cancers. These sensitivities/specificities are far superior to those obtained by using classical cancer biomarkers. In this review, I concentrate more on questions that cast doubt on the results reported and propose experiments to investigate these questions in detail, before the technique is used at the clinic. It is clear that the method needs to be externally and thoroughly validated before clinical implementation is warranted.

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