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J Clin Oncol. 2003 Mar 15;21(6):1035-43.

Human kallikrein 6 (hK6): a new potential serum biomarker for diagnosis and prognosis of ovarian carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, and Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



The discovery of new ovarian cancer biomarkers that are suitable for early disease diagnosis and prognosis may ultimately lead to improved patient management and outcomes.


We measured, by immunoassay, human kallikrein 6 (hK6) concentration in serum of 97 apparently healthy women, 141 women with benign abdominal diseases, and 146 women with histologically proven primary ovarian carcinoma. We then calculated the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of this test and examined the association of serum hK6 concentration with various clinicopathologic variables and patient survival.


Serum hK6 concentration between normal and benign disease patients was not different (mean, 2.9 and 3.1 micro g/L, respectively). However, hK6 in presurgical serum of ovarian cancer patients was highly elevated (mean, 6.8 micro g/L; P <.001). Serum hK6 decreased after surgery (to a mean of 3.9 micro g/L) in 68% of patients. The diagnostic sensitivity of serum hK6 at 90% and 95% specificity is 52% and 47%, respectively, in the whole patient population. For early stage disease (stage I or II), sensitivity is approximately 21% to 26%. When combined with CA-125, at 90% specificity, sensitivity increases to 72% (for all patients) and to 42% in stage I or II disease. Serum hK6 concentration correlates moderately with CA-125 and is higher in patients with late-stage, higher-grade disease and in patients with serous histotype. Preoperative serum hK6 concentration is a powerful predictor of disease-free and overall survival in both univariate and multivariate analyses.


Serum hK6 concentration seems to be a new biomarker for ovarian carcinoma and may have value for disease diagnosis and prognosis.

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