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J Oncol. 2011;2011:475983. doi: 10.1155/2011/475983. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Potential markers for detection and monitoring of ovarian cancer.

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Center for Reproductive Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


This paper reviews current screening techniques as well as novel biomarkers and their potential role in early detection of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is one of the most common reproductive cancers and has the highest mortality rate amongst gynecologic cancers. Because most ovarian cancer diagnoses occur in the late stages of the disease, five-year survival rates fall below 20%. To improve survival rates and to lower mortality rates for ovarian cancer, improved detection at early stages of the disease is needed. Current screening approaches include tumor markers, ultrasound, or a combination. Efforts are underway to discover new biomarkers of ovarian cancer in order to surmount the obstacles in early-stage diagnosis. Among serum protein markers, HE4 and mesothelin can augment CA125 detection providing higher sensitivity and specificity due to the presence of these proteins in early-stage ovarian cancer. Detection testing that includes methylation of the MCJ gene and increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor is correlated to poor prognosis and may predict patient survival outcome. Detection testing of biomarkers with long-term stability and combination panels of markers, will likely lead to effective screening strategies with high specificity and sensitivity for early detection of ovarian cancer.

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