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J Histochem Cytochem. 2012 Jan;60(1):9-21. doi: 10.1369/0022155411428469.

Breast and ovarian cancers: a survey and possible roles for the cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Tumor markers are widely used in pathology not only for diagnostic purposes but also to assess the prognosis and to predict the treatment of the tumor. Because tumor marker levels may change over time, it is important to get a better understanding of the molecular changes during tumor progression. Occurrence of breast and ovarian cancer is high in older women. Common known risk factors of developing these cancers in addition to age are not having children or having children at a later age, the use of hormone replacement therapy, and mutations in certain genes. In addition, women with a history of breast cancer may also develop ovarian cancer. Here, the authors review the different tumor markers of breast and ovarian carcinoma and discuss the expression, mutations, and possible roles of cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans during tumorigenesis of these carcinomas. The focus is on two groups of proteoglycans, the transmembrane syndecans and the lipid-anchored glypicans. Both families of proteoglycans have been implicated in cellular responses to growth factors and morphogens, including many now associated with tumor progression.

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